I wrote this for our weekly email newsletter, Weekly Wisdom. It goes out (nearly) every Friday and contains reflections so the spiritual life and church stuff.
It has been a wild fortnight of weather! Snow, ice, sleet, rain, clear blue skies, wind, temperatures from below zero to above freezing and back again. It has been tough on cars, tough on our heating bills, tough on pets, tough on travelers, tough on teachers and students and parents, tough on those who work outside, tough on those without shelter. It’s just tough all around, these Wisconsin winters.
Now, I’m not always sure we can learn about God from the natural world (something called natural theology), but we do know that weather is a part of God’s creation, and we live within God’s creation. Here are three places in scripture where the weather is woven into our spiritual lives:
First, in Psalm 148, we hear about all the orders of human society joining with all of creation in one single song of praise to the Creator. The weather is in on the hymn as well: “Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!”
Second, the weather is out of our control, and so this reminds us of the majesty and sovereignty of God. God’s will and God’s plan are not always within our understanding, and inevitably each of us must come to the point where we worship God simply because God is God, and nothing else is. Elihu reminds Job of this majestic fact in chapters 36 and 37 of the book of Job. Read the whole thing, but here are the key verses:
5 God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
6 For to the snow he says, “Fall on the earth”;
and the shower of rain, his heavy shower of rain,
7 serves as a sign on everyone’s hand,
so that all whom he has made may know it.*
8 Then the animals go into their lairs
and remain in their dens.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn round and round by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction, or for his land,
or for love, he causes it to happen.
Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen. This recognition of the Almighty is reason enough for worship.
Third, we might grumble at the weather and say “why me, Lord?” as we’re shoveling the snow, but sometimes it ain’t about us. The weather is something that all humans must face. The shared experience of enduring forces beyond our control can make us aware of the shared humanity that lies beyond our persistent divisions. Jesus said so in his sermon on the mount:
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
The winter is part of God’s good creation, and personally I prefer the cold to the heat and humidity of summer! Let us thank God for everything that allows us to be warm and safe in the wintertime. Let us be mindful of those without shelter or warmth or safety, and be moved to help them. Let us feed the birds, and enjoy the beauty of the snow, and reflect on the turning of the year on this beautiful earth that God has given for our survival.
Something to try: pray through Canticle 12, which is found on page 88 of the Book of Common Prayer, or at this link. As you do, take your time and imagine each of the pieces and parts of creation joining in your call to praise.