Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 1, 2014

PASTOR'S PEN: Introduce God into those cold conversations

Goshen News

---- — It’s cold! That’s not only the reality and the talk around town, but it’s also what I have to hear my wife say every single time we get in the car.

It is really cold out there, but come on, do we have to keep saying it over and over as if it helps us bear it or something? Ask any waitress what the first thing a customer says to them lately when she says, “How are you folks tonight?” Yep, you know what’s coming, “We’re cold!” Ask any store owner what the first subject is when they welcome somebody into their store, “Cold enough for ya?”

And it’s right about the time we try to ignore it that a pipe bursts, a furnace quits, a water heater decides to give up the ghost, or your car battery moans a dull good-bye as you reach for yet another hundred bucks to replace it.

It’s really, really cold out there! I suppose so.

And those who deal with the public are going to have to listen to it over and over from people who think they are the first ones to come through their door to make a little quip about it.

One phrase I often hear is, “It’s cold as hell out there!” Really? How long do we have to think about that statement before realizing how absurd it is? To be kind, maybe they mean to shorten the idea that it is as cold as hell is hot. I guess we can give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

It’s just that people don’t really have any new original ways to speak about the obvious. So things like “Cold enough for ya?” and “It’s cold as hell out there” come into play.

Comedians work a little harder at it than most. It’s so cold that hitchhiker’s are holding up pictures of thumbs! It’s so cold that you’re actually thankful for hot flashes! It’s so cold that I saw a greyhound bus and the dog was riding on the inside! Or how about this one: It’s so cold that teenagers are pulling their pants up!

But funny or not, there has to be more to talk about than the temperature, more than the obvious. But then again, think about it; everything takes place IN the temperature. We can’t escape experiencing life OUTSIDE of the temperature. We wake up TO the temperature, we get dressed IN the temperature, and we walk out INTO the temperature to begin yet another day. It’s everywhere. There’s no escaping it.

And that got me to wondering. Is there anything else that people just can’t escape? That we wake up TO, get dressed IN, and walk out INTO on a daily basis? And the first thing that popped into my brain was yes — God’s love!

In different ways, but both Christians and non-Christians walk and live every moment in God’s love. Scripture says that God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45b). Though the unbeliever — called “unrighteous” here, will never give God credit or thanks for it, he too is showered by God with blessings every minute of every day. The very air he breathes, is given by God. The strength he or she has to make it through the day is given by God. The part of his or her health that is good, is given as a gift from a God who they refuse to recognize, and yet that doesn’t stop God from loving them.

The Christian, on the other hand, is much more blessed than this. He or she has the gift of eternal life through the life, death and resurrection of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. That’s where we get our name. We are Christian because we are Christ’s. We use the air we breathe to praise the God who gives it to us because of Christ. We work with the health God has given us to bring glory to the One who has given it to us because of Christ. Whether the air is cold or hot, we find God in it, and we praise him for being there for us.

My suggestion is simple. Try to find something other than the temperature to talk about when you meet and greet people. Perhaps when they remark about the cold, you can reply with, “With the temperatures being so dangerously cold, I’m sure glad that it is no match for God. Once again He has kept me in his grace, restores my faith in him through his Son, and I face the temperature and the world with great hope and confidence because I know that no matter what comes my way, I am a child of God, and my Father will never leave me nor forsake me.”

Walk away from someone after saying that, and I’ll bet you can return an hour later and their face will still be frozen with their jaw hanging open, and it will have nothing at all to do with how cold it is.

May God keep you warm with his love this winter, as you find new ways to share that love with those he places in your life.

The Rev. Andrew Wollman is pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Goshen.