Thursday, March 20, 2014

I get the news I need on the weather report

I Get the News I Need on the Weather Report*
God Sent All This Snow

As I write, on March 20, there is a fine light snow in the air. The Spring Equinox will arrive at 11:57am where I live. “Spring has sprung,” in spite of appearances at the moment.

It’s been an unusual winter here in Chicago, with one of the highest annual accumulations of snow. What my Karen and I call a “Minnesota winter” – snow came, stayed, and accumulated; we didn’t have the typical Chicago snow/thaw/melt/repeat cycle. In our view, this is actually a good thing.

But there has been a lot of complaining in the circles I read and listen in on. Too much snow, too cold, for too long. Me? This winter I’ve had a theological “aha!” about the way we think and talk about the weather.

As moderns, we know how weather happens. Our models for forecasting are getting better all the time. We are rarely surprised by unusual weather events, and we find that it is increasingly easy to make reliable long-range (5- to 7-day) plans around the forecasts.

Therefore, we reason (like the good products of the Enlightenment that we are) that God has nothing to do with today’s weather. Sure, we concede, he cares about us and the affect of the weather on us. God still wants us to be thankful and joyful in all circumstances. But is God actually responsible for this fine light snow in the morning just hours before the Equinox?

If not, then we may complain about the weather.

BUT: What if, without ignoring the science, we still believe that God is responsible for the weather? What if it was God’s plan for northern Illinois that we should have so much snow, so often and for so long, and some pretty intense cold to boot? Then are we comfortable complaining about it?

Well, I don’t mean to sound better than I am. I just found that, this winter, I could not complain. And then I found that I could be not only thankful, but joyful. Of course I am happy that spring is coming. Yes, I’ve been eager for it. And check back in the heat of July and August and see if I am still maintaining my cheery attitude toward God and his ways with our climate.

You see—modern Christians with a foot in scientific materialism—if God is not directly involved (read: responsible) for our weather, then how is he not the Great Watchmaker, the Maker who set things in motion and leaves them to their own processes? Is he not rather actually holding all things together by the word of his power (see Colossians 1:16—17)? This winter I have regained some of the wonder by believing this means even today’s weather.

So, today I’m thankful that it is snowing on the first day of Spring, even if I’m also thankful that there’s not going to be enough that I have to shovel again.

* Paul Simon, "The Only Living Boy in New York"

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