Well we’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas for years and at long last, it would appear that our dreams have come true – it’s very cold and white out there right now! However, it would seem that for many out there on the the icy, snow-capped streets of the UK, the snow is proving to be more of a nightmare than the stuff of dreams. As planes, trains and automobiles grind to a halt, many are facing the very real prospect of spending Christmas apart from their families. Similarly, as people opt for staying indoors rather than venturing out to the shops, the pubs, or even work, it seems that the economy has taken a real kicking too, as numerous parties have been cancelled and many have not been able to purchase all the presents they would like to have bought for their loved ones.
Furthermore, even local churches (including my own) have had to cancel carol services and outreach events during a season when we expect to really be able to serve and engage with our communities.
It’s been tough for sure, but I don’t want to join ranks with all the moaners out there (even though my kids are going stir crazy being cooped up in the house for days on end!) No, I still love the snow! And while it seems that everyone else is having a good ole gripe about the winter weather, I’ve decided that as a follower of God (who is both sovereign and good) I should try to respond appropriately in a positive and godly way.
So for what it’s worth, here’s my Snow Survival Guide For Saints:
1. Chill Out:
We live in a relentlessly hectic world and Christmas is perhaps the most bonkers time of all. Therefore, in our culture the concept of Sabbath – unplugging and making time and space for personal reflection, refocussing, meditation, prayer, reading scripture etc. is non-existent.
* So when the snow turns up and literally pins us down, rather than finding a million new distractions to occupy our hearts, minds and time, why not see the snow as God blessing us with the perfect opportunity to chill out and enjoy Sabbath?
2. Enjoy Family:
It’s the Christmas holidays. My kids are around. My gorgeous wife’s around. I can’t go anywhere! Buzzin! Normally at this time of year I’m bombing round here, there and everywhere, buying stuff, speaking at various places, organising church events, visiting
people…leaving Michelle and the kids to hold the fort without me. This week the snow has literally cleared my diary and I’ve got the whole family to myself and I’m loving it.
Once upon a time, Christmas time was all about enjoying time with the fam. Then materialism and busyness crept in and family-life suffered massively – it became all about expensive material gifts, rather than the precious free gift of quality time.
* Perhaps God has blessed us with this snow this Christmas so that dads can rediscover how to play with their kids, listen to their teenagers, help around the house and romance their wives.
3. Be Church:
We all know that church should go deeper than a mere Sunday get together. The reality for many, however, is that that’s how it is for them. We’re blessed in Hill City because we’re a small community church who are used to sharing life on numerous levels. It’s been fantastic to see the way that the Hill City saints have started pulling together as the snow has come down. Food hampers being purchased, offers of shopping and pretty much every other sort of help you could think of. Proper Acts 2 stuff! The blessing of belonging to an authentic church was perhaps best illustrated yesterday as I took the bus down to Tesco to get some essentials, only for the snow to come down so quickly that within minutes Trevethin became unreachable. In Tesco, however, I bumped into Allan, a 65 year old member of our church who could have left in time to make it up the hill, but chose instead to wait for his Pastor!! We were soon stranded in the snow and ended leaving his car at the bottom of the hill and walking back to Trevethin together, chatting, praying and encouraging one another. It was such a precious time. That’s church!
* Let’s not allow the snow to drive a wedge between us as believers, scarpering into our little burrows and looking after ourselves. Let’s use the frustrations, limitations and extremities brought about by the snow to practice authentic, compassionate ‘one another’ church.
4. Serve Community:
You get to see the best and worst of people when the snow falls. You see extreme acts of selfishness from parking space politics to greedy shopping binges. But you also see the image of God shining out from between the cracks as people selflessly help their neighbours and those in need. Surely God’s people should be at the forefront of such acts of grace.
* This white, fluffy powder that has been dumped all over our doorsteps is the perfect platform for us to put the gospel of grace on display. Let’s walk these white streets with open eyes and open hearts as we seek to love and serve our communities as Christians should.
5. Redeem Technology:
We are blessed by an abundance of technology these days. If you’re on lock down in your house, why not make the most of your technology for the glory of God? Keep in touch with other saints and share prayer needs and ministry opportunities etc. via text, Facebook, Twitter etc. If you’ve had to miss Sunday service, why not get on Youtube and worship God using videos that you and your friends have selected (thanks to Helen for that idea!) Or download a sermon from one of the multitude of godly pastors who have put their messages online for times like this?
* The snow might slow us down and mess up our ‘normal’ routine, but God has blessed us with technology through which we can bless Him, bless others and be blessed
ourselves! Don’t be afraid to use it!
6. Worship God:
Finally, rather than winding us up or getting us down, this snow should inspire us to worship God. Here’s 2 reasons why:
i) The snow quickly reminds us how small, weak, limited and finite we really are. I think we often struggle to worship God because we have an inflated view of ourselves and an inferior view of Him. When you think that all of this snow, that can literally bring a nation to its knees, is kept by God in a barn (Job 38v22) and deposited as He sees fit, you start to get a better perspective of just how immense God is and how puny we are. It has the same effect as seeing the stars on a clear night or standing in the shadow of a colossal mountain. It’s humbling. I think the snow is especially good for those who live in the cities who don’t get to see vastness of creation or the extent of the cosmos very often. Snow is one of God’s gifts to inspire us to worship Him.
ii) As I shared in my recent video, snow should also remind us of the wonder of the gospel of Jesus. Isaiah wrote in ch1v17: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Similarly, after committing adultery and conspiracy to murder, King David repented with these words: “wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51v7) I love how snow can make even ugly things seem beautiful. That’s what Jesus came to do – to make saints out of sinners. To make the unrighteous righteous. To make new creations out of fallen creatures. To love the unlovely. To die on an ugly cross in order to cover our shame and beautify us with His salvation!
* If you see nothing else in the snow this winter time, focus on the clean, crisp, fresh purity of it and marvel that the massive, holy God of the universe would spill his blood on your behalf to make you clean! If that doesn’t cause you to worship – nothing will!
Enjoy the snow this Christmas!