Don’t freeze

Published 8:37 am Thursday, January 11, 2018

It has been cold, lately. So cold, in fact, I think my thermometer broke. It has reminded me that I don’t really know how cold “cold” can be. Somewhere back from school-days, I recall that there was a cold that is the absolute absence of any heat at all. Some of my science-teacher friends might help correct me, but I believe it is negative 459.67 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. That is a long way below any wind-chill I have ever felt. Talk about freezin’ your nibblins.

When I was growing up I joined the Boy Scouts. We had some campouts that were so cold, they are the stuff of legend. Along the way, we learned to be prepared. It was vital to have layers of clothing, fire-starting materials, ready-to-heat foods like oatmeal and soups, a good sleeping bag and dry socks. But just as important, it was essential to have friends whose cheerful company could warm our hearts like a campfire and whose wisdom could light the way in the dark.

As a person of faith, I have come to realize that without others, I am lost in the cold as well. It is not just that I need warmth of friendship. I also need the example of others in order to grow. I need their witness and their demonstration of how to live faithfully. I need their confession of lessons learned the hard way. I need to hear about the mistakes they have made, and of how God has not given up on them, but shown them forgiveness and new hope.

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Indeed, if I as a Christian have anything to offer to others, it is forgiveness. If the Christian community has any word to share with others, it is hope. Just as light can pierce the darkness, just as warmth can thaw even that which is frozen solid, so too is the power of God’s grace. Indeed, God pours out God’s love, holding nothing back, in order to strangely warm our hearts of stone and rekindle the divine spark within us.

We can read about this warmth in scripture. We can watch or listen to programs about it. But there is an indispensable truth that there is only way to truly become warmed. It is in the embrace of a discipleship group — people who hold us with love and hold us accountable with grace. Join one today.

REV. MICHAEL KENDALL is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. HIs email address is mkendall@farmvilleumc. org.