Each year, after what I lovingly call the “Christmas Carnival” (meaning its just a crazy amount of work to get through all our worship services and a lot of things can go wrong), I take some vacation. This year we celebrated Christmas with my parents here in Appleton then headed to Park Falls to stay in our cabin. So, for vacation, we went where it was even colder and even darker than here! We actually spent a lot of time outside for the three days while we were there. We cleared off a small hill and it turned into a sledding run, we walked on the frozen lake, I gave long rides in the pull behind sled. And we drank hot chocolate; lots of very hot, hot chocolate.

One afternoon, when it was -5 degrees, we walked a couple hundred yards back into the forest to find a new sledding hill. We got a little turned around and the hill ended up being a little too steep and a little too covered in trees. We gave it a go anyway, Elijah sitting in the front of the sled and me in back and down we went, right into a snow bank of deep super-dry and powdery snow that filled his face. It was too cold for such things and the fun was over, his plaintive cry being, “Take me home, I want to go home to Appleton!” Within a few minutes, we were inside our cabin drinking, you guessed it, more hot chocolate, and things started to get better. But, I am sure you can relate to the feelings of “being done” or “being fed up” with the cold or some other abrasive and painful situation that life presents.

We had a dinner this week in confirmation and as we started, we went around in a circle sharing one thing we were thankful for, for the New Year.  Students lifted up family, starting sports, upcoming trips; then one student said, “the warm weather” and wasn’t joking. We all kind of laughed and asked if he was sick or having trouble thinking clearly, but then he said, “I mean for the warm weather that will come, because it’s cold now.” But what struck me is the certainty he had when saying “THE warm weather.”

We do have an assurance that in the months to come, the warmth of summer will enfold us. It’s a certainty that can be hard to remember in the coldness of winter. Sometimes we lose sight of it all, like when we get a face full of cold snow and just want to go home- where it’s warm and we feel safe; another certainty for some of us.

I wonder when life is cold and dark, and we want to retreat, how might our faith provide us a measure of certainty we know in God’s love for us? Then, how might God’s life-giving promises help us through even our bleakest days?

Stay warm in the coming days, and take heart that God has already provided for our futures in the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Nick

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