It always fascinates me. You walk in the snow-covered woods. It hasn’t snowed for some time and the once soft flaky snow that covered the woods has now shriveled, its surface hardened. Then you notice spots where the snow has started melting away, around a rock or a twig, especially a tree stump or a wild grass (photo). I still remember the wonderment that overcame me when, while hiking up a high alpine trail of Colorado Rockies for the first time during the first weekend of July in 1979, I saw a wild mountain flower pushing itself up through the icy snows. Some might think about the popular song The Rose by Bette Midler. One of my sons’ middle school choir once sung that song in a recital.
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose
It seems to me that thawing begins around life forms like a rock or a twig, especially a tree or a grass. Life gives out warmth. When Christ is alive in us we give out the warmth of the unconditional love of God even if we do nothing. Inevitably, thawing happens around us when the reconciling Spirit of God is alive in us. Being comes before doing. In a deep way our actions are expressions of our inner spiritual being. Like Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are “ambassadors for Christ,” in whom “God was reconciling the world to Godself.”
So, I invite you to think about our church community as a spiritual ecosystem. Paul’s favorite metaphor is the body of Christ. What kind of energy do I give out? Is thawing happens around me? How does my being encourage certain responses in others or evoke certain reactions? Do the rituals that are intended to affirm community—the passing of the Peace of Christ, the Open Communion, fellowship hour, etc.—give out the welcoming Spirit of God’s love to our visitors or clearly communicate to them that they are strangers?
During our worship in February we continue to explore the theme of this year’s Season after Epiphany “Come and See” which is based on John 1:39. I pray that when people come they see their knotted shoulder muscles and clinched jaws relaxed, their long-unresolved wounds, guilt and anger find their way to the surface, and their anxiety start to melt away. It begins with you and me being filled with the living Spirit of God.