Winter arrived in the usual way last week — the longest night of the year and plenty of cold weather forecasts. It is fun to live in a place where …
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Winter arrived in the usual way last week — the longest night of
the year and plenty of cold weather forecasts.
It is fun to live in a place where the arrival of winter and
snowfall brings the excitement of hitting the slopes and suntans on
our faces with the oddest facial tan lines produced by sunglasses.
But within the beauty of a Colorado winter there is the reality of
the need for warmth, dangerous driving conditions and scarce food
supplies for God’s creatures that spend their entire lives
Winter weather can be unpleasant and dangerous. In his book,
“Waking the Dead,” John Eldredge describes a frightening visual
flight restrictions flight with a bush pilot around Fairweather
Mountain in Alaska. The mountain’s name is a total misnomer. It did
not get its name from fair weather, but because one can only see it
in fair-weather. In this region of Alaska there are about 20
fair-weather days a year.
Our lives and emotions have seasons too, and especially in our
winters we need a little fair-weather or we too will crash.
Sometimes the fair-weather is just a brief time of clarity that
helps the wintry conditions make sense. I heard this illustration
used at our church to comfort people who are experiencing a blue
Christmas. Winter is a legitimate season and while it lacks the
comforts and pleasures of summer, the dormancy of the trees and
plants on top of the ground is related to root development beneath
the surface. I would add, really cold winters can also kill off
parasites and pests like the beetles that are ravaging our
The financial and professional forecasts for the New Year look
like we are in for long dark nights and plenty of cold. We would
certainly like a bright future but the expectations for better
times are scarce. Most of us are hoping for some episodes of
fair-weather that will give us enough clarity to make a safe
landing so we can survive our winter. Maybe we will also have some
growth beneath the surface.
The churches of our town offer us fair-weather opportunities.
The very meeting place for most churches is called a “sanctuary” —
a warm refuge from the storm. The sanctuaries of some churches are
available for people so they can experience silence and solitude as
they talk to God and hear him talk to them. Parts of many worship
services are designed to give opportunity to sit still and
experience clarity from the dark and cold of life.
There is a verse that calls us to regain our focus. The Psalmist
writes, “Be still and know that I am God.” The very concept of
being still is foreign to most of us, but necessary. Our minds need
time to know God, comprehend transcendent truths and think deep
thoughts. We need “fair-weather” moments in the pressures of
Different regions and people have distinctive Sabbath
observances, but the concept of a Sabbath day of rest and worship
has been integral to people of faith and to many even apart from
faith. Studies have revealed one of the downfalls of a culture
comes when a Sabbath experience is lost. Taking one day in seven
for “fair-weather” helps people do much better in their winters.
Emotions are healthier and decisions are wiser. The spirit can soar
to new heights because they have known God and caught a glimpse of
his transcendent glory and his immediate presence.
During our winter weather of dark circumstances we need some
fair-weather. The good news is, whatever the weather is and however
bad our circumstances are, in our community the churches are
providing opportunities to experience personal “fair-weather” —
times of stillness. Being still is a lost art that we need to
regain. Planning time for worship and reflection will bring
stillness and fair-weather back into our lives.
A New Year’s resolution for more stillness and worship may be
the brightest hope for dealing with the cold of this winter.
Pastor Dan Hettinger serves as director of community life at New
Hope Presbyterian Church. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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