Like the Winter Snow: A Christmas Meditation

  • December 7, 2013

snowSnow is hypnotizing.

Sure, it can create problems and traffic headaches, and being from Mississippi, I’m still not quite use to it. There’s no arguing with the fact that it can change some of our best laid plans. The fact that we’ve had to cancel regular Sunday services because of the extreme winter weather is a testimony to that.

Still, I think it’s mesmerizing. I could sit and watch the snow fall for hours (preferably indoors with a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate)! I’m amazed at how quickly it can accumulate. I’m blown away by how it changes the landscape for as far as you can see. And I’m always struck speechless by the quiet. A winter storm can be raging, and yet if you’re tucked snug in your little house you may never know it because snow is relentlessly silent. Unlike a torrent of rain, and in contrast to a typhoon, the snow fall can just creep up on you. It doesn’t draw attention to itself. It doesn’t call out for your attention. It just falls quietly to the cold ground, and as its “easy wind and downy flake” grows it builds itself into a winter wonderland.

As I mentioned, we’re not having services tomorrow. Still, as one of your pastors I hope you’ll take the time to use this winter weather as an opportunity to worship and to celebrate the message of Christmas, the good news of the quiet king. Jesus’ birth, God’s entrance into our world, was something truly spectacular. And yes there were angels, and a star, some sheepish shepherds, and some out of town star-gazers with a box full of presents, But for the most part one of the truest adjectives that we could use about that first Christmas is extremely unexpected.

It was notoriously quiet. Like the snow fall on our fields and hillsides, the coming of the one true king made little more sound than a winter whisper. One of my favorite Christmas songs, written and sung by Audrey Assad, is all about this quiet nativity:

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we’ve scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Falling, oh yeah, to the earth below
You came falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Isn’t that the truth? Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem all those years ago deserved fanfare. It deserved notice. It deserved the attention of the greatest of politicians and the focus of the world’s masses. And yet as far as we know the only people who heard the news that first night were a ragtag group of hirelings huddled around a campfire as they guarded their herds.

The world didn’t notice. It slept through the arrival of God. It hardly yawns for the ordinary birth of a no-name teenage girl from a no-name family in a no-name town. And why would it? From all appearances there really wasn’t anything worth paying attention to.

And yet that small quiet birth in a backroom barn in the one-horse-town of Bethlehem was far more than anyone could have dared imagined. Like the snow outside tonight it was quiet. It was a divine shyness. And yet like the snow fall outside our windows it changed everything. It gloriously interrupted our plans. It interrupted our world, our darkness, our hopelessness, our death, and in its place it blanketed our world with life and joy and singing.

That subtle twilight dawned much like tomorrow morning will dawn. It was just another day. It was just another morning. But it was a morning like no other, a morning made new in a world that was being made new…because the sleeping infant in that teenage mother’s arms was the creator of the universe who had come to bleach our crimson sins, by his sacrifice, into the grace drenched whiteness of snow.

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