Today, as I recovered from jetlag, I wasn’t so sure where I might spot Jesus in my half-awake state. But as usual, I found him in an unexpected and beautiful place.
Each of us connects with God in different ways – I think God built this into us, these unique ways of experiencing him. Some people often find God in solitude, others in the company of people. Some people experience God in stories and analogies, others in concrete facts and scientific understanding. I imagine that some of you, like me, often experience God in the beautiful world that surrounds us, in creation that reflects God’s majesty and infinite creativity.
Today as I stood at the bus stop (I spend a lot of time doing this), I was struck by the beauty of the snow. We’ve had a few days of light snow this week, and it’s been particularly wet snow – the kind that sticks to things and covers them in odd ways. As I looked around and squinted my eyes in the blowing snow, I saw a world that looked completely white. Trashcans, trees, signs… most everything had a coat of snow.
I walk in this area several times a day – with the dog, with the girls waiting on the bus. So I was particularly drawn today to the areas I know are imperfect. There is an empty space on the other side of the running path, usually filled with leaves, dirt and dog deposits. Today it was completely smooth and white, just like the rest of the ground. I noticed a nearby bench that is usually covered with graffiti, but that today looked completely blank and white. The snow had removed all the offensive words that had been scribbled there. Since I had the camera with me, I snapped a picture.
Through the poetry of Isaiah, God offers his people this comforting (and challenging) word:
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
– Isaiah 1:18
Some things are so filthy – like that graffiti bench – that only a coating of wet snow could make them appear clean again. That whiteness is only surface-deep – after all, as pretty as that empty area looked, I didn’t go walking in it, nor did I sit on this bench! But the whiteness God offers us is not just a surface cover… it’s the real thing. Deep cleansing, through and through. Some things are so filthy that only God can make them clean again. That’s what Jesus’ crimson sacrifice accomplished for us.
Maybe you’ve got snow where you are, or maybe not. But next time you’re in the snow, take a moment to look for Jesus – in the deep, bright whiteness all around. This is what the child, born in the manger, would one day do for you and me. This is the good news we share this Christmas!