This is an article I wrote for the Bennington Banner. Here is a link to the Banner article: http://www.benningtonbanner.com/stories/speaking-of-religion-relentless-redemption,534865?
Is it Spring yet?
Another storm, another snow day. Another several inches to shovel/plow/drive through. When I’m shut in my house watching the snow fly and the inches pile up I turn for comfort to the same place many of us turn.
That’s right. Facebook.
I saw a meme there today that said, “It’s like winter is really mad and keeps storming out of the room, and coming back and yelling, ‘and another thing!’” It seems apt; a few times now I’ve fooled myself into thinking I could take the snow brush out of my car for the season only to be shown in no uncertain terms that my optimism is entirely out of place.
But… it’s not. Not really.
A friend of mine who lives in northern Maine was telling me that his church still has 15-foot snow piles where the plows have been depositing a whole winter’s worth of mess. He lives in a place where the snow starts in October and ends in April, and it never thaws in between. But here, in Bennington, despite three consecutive weeks of nor’easters, there’s only a few inches of the snow on the ground. We get the storms, yes, and they mess up our days, but then there’s a thaw, and melt, and though I can’t see my driveway today, I have faith that tomorrow it’ll be there.
Well, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
Just as we have to live through these late winter snows, we find that we have to endure many storms in our lives. Some of them are out of our control. We can’t control sickness and disease, or economic circumstances that can cost jobs. We can’t control the actual weather!
But many of the storms we endure are storms we create for ourselves. We know what’s right, what we should do, but we choose another path. We create a storm around ourselves, and in the midst of the blizzard we can’t see our way forward, and we can’t find the traction to make it even if our course was clear. The theological term for these storms of our own creation is “sin.” The Apostle Paul understood the pervasive nature of sin: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” [Romans 7:19-20, NRSV]
These storms may be rare, or they may be as regular as a March nor’easter, but one thing we can count on, at least in southern New England, is that the storm always ends, and the thaw always comes. After the storms in our lives the thaw we can always count on is God’s love and forgiveness, God’s relentless redemption. We can never stray too far or go so wrong that we fall out of God’s love.
After storm’s end, there is a thaw; after every long, hard winter comes the Spring. And every time we fail and fall short of God’s desires for us, God forgives, and we are redeemed. That is God’s unfailing promise to all of us.
In the Christian faith we celebrate God’s relentless redemption every year on Easter Sunday, when we remember that two thousand years ago after a young preacher was murdered on a Roman cross, the stone of his tomb was rolled back at his resurrection. Leading up to Easter is the season of Lent, a season of reflection and repentance that lasts forty days. One question clergy are often asked is, wait, why do you say Lent is forty days when it’s longer on the calendar? The answer is simple: Sundays don’t count. Because Sundays are mini-Easters.
Though that stone was rolled back 2000 years ago, we celebrate it every year. God’s redemptive promise didn’t happen once two millennia ago. It doesn’t happen just once every year on Easter. It doesn’t even only happen every mini-Easter, every Sunday.
God’s relentless redemption is there for us every single time we need it. When the storms blow, those we cause and those of which we are victims, God is there. God is the calming of the storm. God is the thawing of the snow. God is the lowering of the flood waters, and the light in the darkest of nights. God is the Spring after a long, hard winter.
God, and God’s relentless redemption, are there for us.
Every. Single. Time.
So don’t worry. Another storm might be coming. But Spring is just around the corner.