Friday, 15 February 2019
SNOW. We love it and we hate it. School cancelled — “hooray!” (kids), “help!” (parents); sledging — “hooray!” (the young), treacherous pavements “help!” (the elderly).
But whether you love it or hate it, it has usually gone as quickly as it arrived.
As a minister, snow always makes me think of a particularly wonderful verse in the Bible that reads, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18).
The first hours of light last Friday were magical, before any muddy wellies or car exhausts had time to leave their mark. Pure, soft, sparkling white.
Even those of us (myself included) on the miserly end of the snow spectrum can’t help but have something inside us lifted by the purity of it all.
So what a lovely picture for the Bible to use of the work that God offers to do in each of our lives. However you might understand the word “sin”, here it’s seen as something that stains. Mistakes we have made that stain our consciences, arguments we’ve got into that have stained a relationship, failures that have stained our souls with guilt.
This is an experience common to us all. Lady Macbeth, after her role in the murder of King Duncan, is portrayed by Shakespeare desperately wringing her hands, crying “Out, damned spot!”
She could cover up the events but there was a stain in her soul that she couldn’t remove.
And however vague a notion of God we may or may not have, the Bible tells us that we experience this because there is an objective reality to it. Before our God of purest love and goodness, we are hopelessly stained.
And yet here is the possibility held out: they shall be as white as snow.
The Bible is full of the good news of how this can be. God sent Jesus, whose own life was as white as snow, and yet he willingly took on himself every stain of human sin and failure.
Referring to the cross, the Bible says: “He bore our sins in his body on the tree.” For those who come to him, there is the offer that no matter how bowed down we are, no matter how stained we may feel, he will make us as white as snow.
Whatever you may feel about snow itself, this is the brilliant good news that lies at the beating heart of the Bible.
11 February 2019
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