Tag Archives: Spring

Hope Springs Eternal

For many people in the Upper Midwest, it has been a long, cold and difficult winter. Polar Vortex sub-zero cold snaps. Snow drifts higher than our cars. Streets that seem to be perpetually rutted with snow, ice and potholes. And all the outside conditions play havoc on our interior outlook. With few exceptions, we – are – all – sick – of – winter.

So no wonder as the temperature rises, we want out. This week is spring break for many of the local schools and several families in the congregation have “escaped” to points south. But some of us who remain behind will not give way to winter.

Early Spring Ride

Early Spring Ride

Take my friend, Tim Torgerson for example. Yesterday when the temperature climbed towards 40 degrees, he pulled down his bicycle from the garage rack and went for a 23 mile ride. Most of the county roads that he rides have wide shoulders and these are cleared of snow (but not sand and gravel). He even stopped to take a picture of the snow banks along the way.

This morning he and I went for a run together, outside. Yes, there is still plenty of ice and snow on the running trails. Yes, with daylight saving times it was still dark at 6:45 am when we started out. But we were determined to avoid the dreaded treadmill and so we pulled on our spiked shoes, reflective vests and hit the road. Neither of us slipped or fell and we did enjoy a spectacular sunrise.

Life Wins!

Life Wins!

Spring is coming to Minnesota, slow, but relentless. We take great hope in the promise of green grass, budding trees and fragrant flowers. Heck, I would relish some good old-fashion mud right now.

The hope of spring reminds of a deeper, stronger hope. The promise of Christ’s resurrection. No matter how dark our lives may seem at times, Christ promises us new life. “I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25.

What do you yearn for?

Lord Jesus, my hope rests in you.

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February is the Longest Month

The month of February is not the shortest month, but the longest for me. The length of a Minnesota winter has always been a big psychological barrier. I did not embraced Nordic skiing this winter and now my winter running has been interrupted by a nagging hamstring injury. For the past month as I watched the snow piles rise in the church parking lot I wondered if spring will ever come.

Saint Ambrose beyond the snow.

Saint Ambrose beyond the snow.

Yet I hope in the promise of spring. The evidence of it may be fleeting, but I am confident that the snow will melt, the trees will bud and my winter coat will be shed.

In a similar way, I take hope in God’s promises of scripture. The Bible is not a set of apps that I can download into my life. I cannot go to the “Google Playstore” and find a verse or two on depression or happiness and plug them into my life. No, the Bible is more like a story into which I am invited. As I live God’s story I discover that no matter how chaotic or troubling the plot may be at times, the Author remains faithful to the story of redemption and new life.

Just as I know that spring will come to Minnesota, I know that Jesus rose from the dead and comes to bring life. Beyond the snows of winter lies the promise of new life.

This is written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).

Walter Brueggemann wrote these word of questions and hope regarding the Bible thirty years ago.

The central concerns of the Bible are not flat certitudes . . . but assurances that are characterized by risk and open mystery. The quality of certitude offered by the Bible is never that of a correct answer but rather of a trusted memory, a dynamic image, a restless journey, a faithful voice. Such assurances leave us restless and tentative in the relation, and always needing to decide afresh. Rather than closing out things in a settled resolution, they tend to open things out, always in fresh and deep question and urgent invitation. The central thrust of the Bible, then, is to raise new questions, to press exploration of new dimensions of fidelity, new spheres for trust. Such questions serve as invitations to bolder, richer faithfulness. Such questions also serve as critics exposing our easy resolution, our faithless posturing, and our self-deception. If the Bible is only a settled answer, it will not reach us seriously. But it is also an open question that presses and urges and invites. For that reason the faithful community is never fully comfortable with the Bible and never has finally exhausted its gifts or honored its claims. (The Bible Makes Sense)

Lord Jesus, continue to write hope upon my heart.

Hope Runs Eternal

The biggest problem with Minnesota winters is not the severity: not the deep cold, not the large snow falls, not the short dark nights. The real problem is the duration. Winter drags into March and even parts of April. There may be teasers of warm weather, but winter usually has a second or third slam to deliver.

What a difference this year. Not just one day of beautiful warm spring weather, but a whole week. I was able to run the trails at Afton State Park today and though muddy, it was a delight. What a joy to be alive. The exercise, prayer and sunshine gave me a feeling of hope. After all, hope runs eternal.

As a Christian, hope is a critical part of my belief system. I recognize that life is often cruel, unfair and extremely difficult. I remember that every time I do a funeral or visit a hospital room. I also remember it when I make the yearly journey with Jesus to Calvary and the cross. Here is someone who was willing to suffer and die, in the hope of the resurrection. Jesus died for me and he rose for me. I cannot prove the resurrection, but I see plenty of evidence in the New Testament and in the lives of God’s people. I am hopeful that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. “While we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” Titus 2:13 (NRSV)

 My own hopeful news is that after nearly a year layoff, my running is back strong. Thanks for the many words of encouragement and prayers. As I was running Afton, I thought about its 25K trail race this July. Anyone want to join me? God is good!

Lord Jesus, let me run or walk or sit or be with you daily.