As I write this, we’re sitting in the middle of January, the temperature outside is 22° and mother nature just dumped another few inches of snow on us again last night. Now we always talk about the weather, but in winter we talk about it a lot more. We do that because in winter the weather is a challenge. It can affect our health negatively. It raises our energy bills. It limits our transportation – in some ways it isolates us, cuts us off from the outside world.
We remember the monster storms – the 31″ of snow of 1996 which holed everyone up for over a week, the repetitive ice storms of the following winter, three or four days apart for weeks which resulted in seventeen days of school closings that year. Even two years ago we had the big January storm which totaled thirty inches. We still talk about them – how we handled them; how much fun it was for the kids and what a pain it was for the adults; trying to get to work – actually trying to get anywhere.
Winter can be a challenge to our faithfulness as well. On bitter Sundays, should we try to come to church or not? It’s a tough question. We don’t want anyone getting sick, falling on the ice or snow and getting hurt. We certainly don’t want our elderly to put their health in danger. Yet I am constantly amazed at the faithfulness of God’s people at Green Tree. If they can come to worship they do. Two of the last three Sundays we’ve seen early morning temperatures of 2° on one Sunday and 6° on another. I wasn’t sure anyone would be there and not everybody was but many of you were and your faithfulness is a bright light in the dark clouds of winter.
A quick winter story, my son Jonathan was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. The nearest Church of the Brethren was the Root River church – fifty-five miles away across the border in Minnesota. So one Sunday morning he left early to make the trip. Soon after leaving the snow started, falling heavily at the rate of 2 inches an hour. He kept going, crept along country roads – not sure of where he was going or if anyone would be there when he arrived.
Well, to his surprise on both accounts, he made it and people were there (12 of them). He missed Sunday School, but made it to worship. The pastor and her husband invited him to stay with them until the plows came through (the next morning!). My point here is not Jonathan’s insane sense of adventure but that twelve people would show up in the middle of a blizzard to worship the Lord at this little country church. (Of course they were Minnesotans).
Like the Root River people, Green Tree’s people have been faithful and your faithfulness will never go unnoticed by our heavenly father. God bless us all as we faithfully gather in worship each Sunday through another difficult winter.