It’s the twelfth of March and there’s snow on the ground. I knew that snow was in the forecast, but I was still a bit stunned to wake up this morning and see it on the ground. I hope that most of the flowers, shrubs and trees have survived intact. After last week’s cold snap, most of the plants in our yard seemed fine, but I noticed that my neighbor’s beautiful cherry blossoms had all turned brown and were falling off. Cold snaps happen, I suppose. Sometimes, winter gets a victory.
Over the course of last week, I finished reading a book called Pillars of the Earth. It is a 973-page tome that tells the story of the building of a 12th-century cathedral and the characters whose lives surround it. There are some wonderful characters in the book as well as several vicious ones. Although the good Prior Phillip triumphs in the end, there are many episodes in those 973 pages in which the evil William Hamleigh and Bishop Waleran seem to be winning. Winter returns unexpectedly. Cold snaps happen.
On Wednesday of last week, I went up to Capitol Hill (with a few other West End members) to meet with some of our legislators about the use of the death penalty in Tennessee. A bill to exclude people with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses from the death penalty had come before a committee in the state Senate, but on Tuesday, the day before we went to the Hill to advocate for it, it got voted down. It felt like a sudden cold snap.
Perhaps you are walking through a season in your own life that feels like winter. Maybe you have faced loss or setback, and you’re finding it hard to feel hopeful.
The truth is, cold snaps happen. The work of love in the world sometimes gets pushed back, and it is easy to get discouraged. But we worship a God who comes into the darkness of winter and cries out, “Nevertheless!” Nevertheless, the spring comes. Nevertheless, the light arises. Nevertheless, love endures.
It is the season of Lent, and we are walking toward Jerusalem with Jesus. The road will soon get very dark, and it will come to a cross. It will look for a little while like the forces of darkness have won, but we know that the story is not over. We have faith in the “long arc of justice” and the final victory of love.
For now, though, let us not jump to the end too quickly. It is important for us to be present to the moment that is before us and to know that God is with us in the winter, in the failure, in the darkness. The spring will come. The light will arise. But God has things to show us in this time of waiting. May we wait in patient hope for the Day of Resurrection.
Prayer: God of Life, you walk with us in the darkness, and you lead us toward your light. Even your creation shows us the power of life over death. Help us today, when choices come before us—whether they be big or small—to choose love, trusting that your love wins in the end. Amen.
Scripture for Sunday: James 1:22-25 (Theme: Why Serve?)