Thursday, February 23, 2023

Guest Post - Snowy Lessons For Our Reflection, by Rev. Hollis Hiscock

Please welcome my Dad - Rev. Hollis Hiscock - as today's guest blogger!   

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Snowy Lessons For Our Reflection
By Rev. Hollis Hiscock

On February 23, 2023, Eastern and Central Canada, along with many parts of the United States,
were blanketed with heavy snow and blizzard conditions.

Snow is mentioned some 20 times in the Bible!
Not bad for lands that rarely, if ever, experienced individually designed,
small, tongue-catching snowflakes fluttering to the ground.

Job - while enduring life-threatening struggles which drastically altered his family - called snow “an amazing thing that we cannot understand,” which falls on the earth. (Job 37:5-6)

Isaiah reflected that snow “came down” to water the earth “making it to bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10)

The writer of the Psalms stated that everything and everybody should praise God, including snow, hail, frost and stormy winds. (Psalm 148:9)

These Biblical ideas direct my attention to a book which my father used for many years.
Today - in its well-worn condition - it still occupies a prominent place in my study.

You see, as a Church Lay Leader, Dad conducted worship almost every Sunday. As was the practice back then, he was not permitted to write and deliver his own sermons or homilies. Rather, he had to read sermons from books, usually written in England, which he had to deliver verbatim in small and isolated communities in Newfoundland-Labrador.

“The Lessons of the Snow” was one such sermon.

Including his snow sermon, the Reverend H. J. Wilmot-Buxton published 23 short sermons for children (maybe long by today’s standards) which he dedicated to his children because he was “more than ever impressed with admiration for the powers of those who clothe holy teaching in language suited to the intelligence of the little ones.” His conclusion reminds me that Jesus also used simple stories and parables to explain the complexity and mystery of God.

Wilmot-Buxton never imagined my father would read his children’s sermons to people of all ages in the colonies, and that in 2023, I would be asking you to reflect on his lessons from the snow, but here we are.

Here are 4 Snowy Lessons for Our Reflection:

Firstly, we learn how wonderfully God works through the great workshop we call Nature. Moisture, drawn from the reservoirs of the earth, is condensed and returns to give new life to the earth. God is the great recycler! 

Secondly, we learn about the wonderfully quiet and irresistible way God works. The snowflake seems so fragile and weak independently, yet when one comes together with millions of others, they become powerful enough to bring a megacity or country to a standstill. “We can get more things done when we pool our resources of time, skills and treasures, than when we act alone” is fodder for our reflection and action.

Thirdly, we learn that God works in our lives in a manner similar to how snow preserves life under its protective covering. The earth may seem dead, but it is only sleeping and is ready to burst into new life. We may feel the same. At times, personal and external circumstances may cause stagnation without hope. Then suddenly, or not so suddenly, we are transformed by God’s power and newly enriched life emerges from the embers. 

Fourthly, we learn that underneath the snow each flower, plant or shrub is holding a placard declaring, “I SHALL RISE AGAIN.” It is the message of the resurrection from a loving God who promised, “I am with you always.”

In his sermon, Wilmot-Buxton suggested that when snow confines us to airports, hotels, residences, work places, traffic jams or wherever, we should take the opportunity to be safe and grasp the opportunity to learn and reflect more about nature, creation, God, others, and ourselves.

While flipping through Wilmot-Buxton’s sermon book, I found my copy of the song The Rose, written by Amanda McBroom and made famous by Bette Midler. I quote the lyrics here to indicate how the people of the Bible, those living in the mid-20th century and even artists today learn similar lessons from the snow. 

“Just remember in the winter, 
far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love 
in the spring becomes a rose.”

What are your reflections on our winter snow?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or on social media... 

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The Reverend Hollis Hiscock 
is Interim Priest-in-Charge of 
St. John’s Church, Burlington, Ontario. 

You can read his New Year's reflection
"3 Guideposts & 1 Prayer for 2023"

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