As I write, the temperature outside is rising and should top out at 70 degrees, if the forecast is accurate. What a relief! When I lived in Boston, on the first day the temperature reached 60 degrees, usually in late April, everyone rushed outside and reveled in the warm sunshine, grateful that winter was over! Winter is not only a harsh season we have to endure every year, it is also a powerful metaphor in life. We humans are aspirational creatures who seek the good and try to avoid pain and hardship, which on balance is a good thing.
But some things in life are just beyond our control: the pain of childbirth, the scarcity of resources, curbing unhealthy appetites, dealing with difficult people, and protecting ourselves from various diseases. We have certainly learned this in the past 12 months! One of the problems with the hard knocks in life is being tempted to believe that things will never get better. Israel’s prophets had two problems: 1) trying to convince God’s people that their pride and arrogance were going to lead to their downfall and 2) trying to convince the same people who ended up in exile in Babylon that this was not going to last forever!
Winter’s long, hard weather can convince us that God has given up on us and that spring is never going to come. But experience and memory ought to convince us otherwise. When I walk past our vegetable garden on the way to the mailbox this time of year I see nothing but gray, brown stalks of last year’s crop with no sign of green anywhere. But when I look at the calendar and not the facts on the ground, I realize that spring is just a month away when young, green shoots will begin to appear. This is not only an exercise in wishful thinking or a fertile imagination. This is based on proven science and personal experience.
The old saying, “it gets darkest just before dawn” is born of millions of people who have been tempted to lose hope and be overwhelmed by the continuation of adversity having learned that in the spring new life shows up right on time. One of the great lines in the Bible is “when the time was right”—God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world but to save it. That is the good news we Christians live by. We know that the world God created is a good one where God wants us to flourish and enjoy love with our Creator and one another. But we are not puppets or robots; we have been given the gifts of freedom, agency, and responsibility. Add that to the laws of nature, and the possibility for things to go wrong is endless.
The message of Lent is that no matter how many things go wrong or how long they last, God has promised to walk with us and provide us with the courage, stamina, and hope we need to survive. Just as surely as spring always follows the long, cold winter, Easter follows Lent, and God’s last word is always about new life and new possibilities. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Ps. 30:5). This is why we Christians live by faith, not by sight. We choose to pay more attention to God’s promises than our pessimism or pain.
Have you bought your seeds for the garden yet? Help and hope are on the way. Thanks be to God! You are in for a real treat on Sunday. Our youth groups will conduct worship online. I can’t wait!
The Session has approved a second food drive for the Raleigh Dream Center, whose food pantry is running low. We are grateful for your generous response during our last drive and hope that many of of you will be able to participate in this one. In order to keep everyone safe during COVID, Amy Rhoades and the Mission Team will do the shopping for the canned meat items requested. To support this effort, please send a check to the church marked "Raleigh Dream Center Donation." Thank you in advance for your generous contributions.
Trinity's elders, deacons, and staff are praying for you, your loved ones, and your friends. If you should have a care concern or celebration you'd like to share, please email David or the church office.
Congratulations to Will Farrow and Sydney Hardee who became engaged over the weekend. Will is Missy and Chris Farrow’s oldest son.
David shared that Edna Thompson’s brother, Milton Griffin, passed away on Tuesday. Please pray for comfort and peace for Edna and Joe and their whole family during this time of sadness.
Alex Darden, Bill Raudenbush's friend who has Parkinson's, will be scheduled for brain surgery in the near future. Please pray for the success of the surgery, Alex's well-being, and for his family as they provide support before and after the surgery.