I live in
, where for all practical purposes winter begins on November 1st and lasts through March 31st. That makes for five months, exceeding what the calendar says by two full months, but accepting that winter runs that long makes it easier to tolerate those days, those rare days but present nonetheless, where ice storms come on Halloween and the end of March can bring 18” of snow in one day. Minnesota
This week has been typical of the abrupt changes we can experience. It was warm enough to run outside in shorts on Sunday. Wednesday brought a wake-up temperature of 15 degrees. Thursday it was close to 30 but the wind speed matched the temperature. And late Saturday brought wet snow, so that on Sunday morning there was a thin and very slippery layer of ice in our neighborhood while dry pavement was found just a few miles away. And our forecast is for the temperature to climb back into the 50’s later this week. It seems like winter and, at the same time, it’s not winter.
Earlier this week I listened to some comments by Greg Beale regarding his new book. While the book itself may be primarily of interest to pastors and theology geeks Beale said something that really grabbed my attention. He spoke about the acute awareness that the authors of the New Testament had that they were living in a world which was fundamentally altered by the resurrection of Jesus. The apostles were aware that the world in which they lived was forever changed solely because Jesus had been brought back from the dead. They were living in the knowledge that they were simultaneously both in history and in the “last days,” the time that the Bible points toward that is beyond history, when God’s redemptive plan for all creation will be fulfilled.
On many days our lives do not seem to show evidence that the “future is now,” that God’s new creation has already come into existence with the resurrection of Jesus. We feel weak and powerless. We have a hard time seeing the horizon of today, let alone imagining the vision that God gives of our future. The apostle Paul points us back in the right direction, so that we can see hope in our struggles. In Romans 5:3-5 he writes “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
The many variations in the weather this week reminded me that no matter what is going on around me there exists a constant in my life, the presence of God’s Spirit. Life has its up-and-downs, its myriad challenges, but God, through his Spirit, is our constant companion. Paul told the Ephesians, and he tells us, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
No matter what is in the air, no matter what is in the details of our lives, no matter what the news of the world is, we who call on Jesus in faith have God’s Spirit within us to testify to us that the world to come is also already here. In the sure knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection let us live by the power of his Spirit, serving him faithfully as the world awaits the fullness of his kingdom