I’m kind of old school in this regard; I get the local paper on the weekends. Mostly because I love crossword puzzles and I love the challenge of the big Sunday crossword. I know you can do crosswords online, but I love folding it up, carrying it around with me. But, another thing I love about the weekend paper is the reader forum; the letters-to-the-editor that local people write expressing their views on various topics. It’s fascinating to me to read what people in our community are talking about and what they saying about it.
Anyway, 2 Sundays ago I came across this headline in the reader forum: “Get to church, and quick, before the next storm.” In this letter-to-the-editor the writer warns us that “the Almighty God keeps ‘talking to us through these weather related experiences,’” in reference to our abnormally harsh winter, the tornado that destroyed a local community last fall and other ecological disasters. And then, closing his letter he warns us to go to church – “almost any place of worship is better than passively standing by…” and to do so promptly, “Quick, before another 10 inches of snowy white reminders arrive on our driveway, gift-wrapped in a minus-16 degree package.”
And some of you think I make this stuff up!
Now, I’ve gone on record concerning what I think about natural disasters. And this letter just exemplifies my point. If you believe that God is sending us a message via weather patterns it’s a mighty arbitrary business. Frankly, my 4 sons see 10 inches of snow as a beautifully wrapped gift from God. They don’t see judgement, they only see blessings (no school! sledding! hot chocolate! snow forts!).
Why does this guy get to decide the morality of the weather? At what temperature is God judging us? If it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit do I know that God is pleased and at 29 I better get to church? Is this number relative to one’s location? (30 degrees in Minneapolis in January is a blessing, but 30 degrees in Florida in January is a curse?) At 3 inches of snow do we marvel at the beauty of it and at 7 inches we somehow flip a switch and recognize that God is punishing us?
I just can’t understand the logic of this position. Even if you believe that God is literally blowing the clouds and rerouting the polar vortex, how does one move from there to confidence in proclaiming the definitive interpretation of the weather? And you think Biblical interpretation is contentious!
With this I can agree: go to church this week. But, go to church because you want to become more like Jesus, go to church because you recognize your own potential to mess things up and you know that you will only find your true, best self in a community of faith, and go to church because you want to associate with people who believe in the redemption of all things. But don’t think that going to church – even a midweek service like ours tomorrow night – will stop us from getting the predicted 3″-5″ in the next 24 hours.