There’s no business like snow business, like Snow business I SNOW! (Apologies to Ethel Merman and her song “Show Business”...here is a picture of her cameo from the movie Airplane!)
My, what a winter storm that was this past week. Everything was quiet, and then WHAM. It just goes to show you how quickly our circumstances can change from one day to the next.
Something that does not change, however, is God. Here is how one of the prayers from our Compline service in the Book of Common Prayer puts it: Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
At any rate, a happy February to all of you! Have you ever wondered where the word 'February' comes from? It comes from the Latin word 'februum', which means 'purification'. (Check Wikipedia if you don’t believe me!) It was named after a Roman ritual of purification, way back in the 700’s BCE. That’s fine for then, but I wonder if 'purification' could have any February meaning for us this year? I believe the answer is yes. Usually the answer would be obvious: the liturgical season of Lent begins this month, in less than two weeks. That is a wonderful opportunity to purify ourselves!
The state of our lives and our world might give us another way in which to consider purification, however. As some of us get the COVID-19 vaccine, and others wait for their turn, we hope to be purified of fear. Fear that we or our loved ones will get sick or die. Fear that our lives can never return to a more casual and close way of life.
And yet, that kind of aspiration is misguided. Someday we and our loved ones will die. It is inevitable. Also, while our lives will get something approaching 'normalish', we can never go back to where we were, not really.
However, there is hope that can be a source of great strength and joy! 1 John 3:3 says "And everyone who thus hopes in God purifies themselves as God is pure." (English Standard Version and adjusted to be gender-neutral.) Now we are getting somewhere! If we have hope in God, then we will be purified. That’s a wonderful message isn’t it? Let us have hope this February. Hope in God’s goodness and love towards us and all of God’s children. Hope in the ability of the human race to be better today than we were yesterday. Hope that the glowing embers of our faith will continue to burn brighter, day by day. I have those hopes, and I pray you do as well. Some days our hope will feel stronger than others, to be sure. On those days when my hope wanes, I’ll be looking to lean on you. And if you have days where your hope seems thin, know that you can lean on me. As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, "hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." (Romans 5:5, NRSV)
Be well my friends. The One who is eternally changeless is with you. Peace!