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Way Too Much Winter
I worshipped yesterday at First Parish Church in Dover, New Hamphire,
where my friend Mike Bennett is the pastor. First Parish Dover was
founded in 1633, which means a 500th anniversary is not too far off.
Isn’t that amazing?
At First Parish, they have been using my bible study on Exodus, so
-- on a snowy Sunday -- Mike asked me to do a dialogue sermon with
him on Exodus.
On arrival the night before I had been stunned by the accumulated
snow of this winter of winters here in New England. Drifts and piles
alongside roads and in yards of 6 to 10 feet. Snow, snow everywhere.
“What’s the importance of Exodus to us, Christians in the 21st
century?” Mike asked me. The snow outside provided a ready metaphor.
“You know, don’t you, how oppressive this winter has become? How
there is so much snow that you feel you are under some kind of
That I suggested is the situation of the Hebrews in bondage in
Egypt. And it is the situation of humanity -- our situation under
the weight of the oppressive powers of Sin and Death. They weigh
upon us, distorting our lives and relationships, disfiguring our
politics and society.
“Imagine,” I said to the congregation, “that spring never comes. The
winter just keeps on going with snow piled up, roofs groaning, icey
streets and long dark nights.” The congregation groaned.
The gospel text, read earlier, Mark 1: 9 - 15, recounted the arrival
on the scene of Jesus, announcing the end of winter and the nearness
of spring -- to carry forward this metaphor. The time when the ice
final thaws and breaks, when plants and flowers appear on the earth,
and life begins.
We live, more than we admit, under the heavy weight of Sin and Death
(death not as biological reality but spiritual death). We stand in
need of liberation, as Israel did. We have a liberator, Jesus
In contemporary culture those who understand the weight of
oppressive power, of being “caught,” may be those with an experience
of addiction, which is rampant among us. God can free us of such
oppressive powers, then and now.