"In The Bleak Mid-Winter"
March 3, 2023, 2:34 PM

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
 In the bleak midwinter, long ago. – C.G. Rossetti, 1872

You may recognize these words from the Christmas carol, In the Bleak Midwinter.   Others will recognize the scene from day-to-day life this year in Western New York.   Through the winter, things are cold and gray; the trees are bare. Things appear to be dead. 
The weather gets to be extreme and burdensome. Yet we know from our experience that every spring the crocuses 
pop out of the ground, the trees begin to bud, and the grass takes on its spring green color. Already, in the second 
week of February, I have begun to see the tips of Daffodils and crocuses poking up. The new life that Spring brings to 
nature is a gift of God that we have come to expect and look forward to each year. That hope gets us through many a 
dreary day! 

Having that kind of faith and expectation is harder in our own lives. We believe the promise of Spring because 
we have seen it. New life for ourselves does not seem as sure. When our lives are dark and cold and bare, it is 
awfully difficult to see that newness may come. Some of us have had the cold soak into us all the way into our souls, so 
that our spirits are as frosty as our fingers and toes. Perhaps the events of life – sadness, illness, death, frustration, loss 
– have caused us to close up, to stop feeling because it is too painful. Maybe we have not turned to the Lord in so 
long that we figure that our souls are too cold for Jesus to come in, even for a visit. Maybe we feel not only that our 
situation is beyond hope, but that we are beyond hope. But no heart is so cold, no human life so inhospitable that the 
love of God, and the forgiving and saving grace of Jesus Christ cannot live there. As the cold of winter could not deter Jesus’ birth, the coldness of the world and human hearts will not deter his coming to thaw them out.

God sent Jesus into our world to give us the assurance of his willingness and ability to bring new life to us. As 
he walked among us, he came to know our struggles and pain. As he was crucified, he knew our suffering and death. 
On Easter, however, when he left the tomb and met the disciples in their grief, he showed that our suffering, our pain, 
and even our death are not the end, even though they appear to be. Joy is more real, and more powerful than suffering. Life is more real and more powerful than death.

Resurrection is more than one of the miracles of Jesus from our distant past. It is more than simply something 
we can hope for after death. It is both of these. But it is also a gift of God that we can claim here and now. It is ours 
everyday if we turn to God in faith. It is ours if we believe the proof of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.
Resurrection is not a return to the way things were; the risen Christ still bore the nail prints in his hands. We 
may feel the effects of frostbite. But it is a new and better life - beginning at pain and sorrow and moving forward into wholeness and joy. 

This year let’s let Lent carry us through the end of winter to the “Spring of Souls” (see hymn #315, vs. 2) that 
is Easter on April 9th. We will be able to watch the miracle of Spring begin to unfold as we prepare for the joy of 
Easter. As you observe the symbols of the Easter season coming forth in the Spring season (crocuses, butterflies, 
birds' eggs) believe that you also can share in God's gift of life in Jesus Christ.

In Christ's love,

Pastor Matt