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A year of blessing and opportunity

January 5, 2009

by Rev. Bill Baldwin, Prairie EVangelical U.C.C., Lest

“In the bleak mid winter, frosty wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak mid-winter, long ago.”

This is the opening line to an old hymn, “In The Bleak Midwinter,” which seems to imply there was bitter cold in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

I just checked the Weather Channel for Bethlehem’s forecast and found out it would be from the mid-50s to the mid-60s around Christmas and New Year’s time in the Middle East. Yet, in verse two of this well-known hymn, it says, “in the bleak midwinter, a stable place sufficed the Lord God almighty, Jesus Christ.”

OK, so the hymn takes a few liberties with the weather facts, but it’s still a pretty hymn. We don’t really have any idea on what date Jesus was born, but it doesn’t change the fact that he was born – and it made all the difference in the world from that moment onward.

Perhaps in Bethlehem, PA, but certainly in Minnesota, we do find ourselves in the deepest dark and cold of winter as we begin the new year. We must find a source of warmth to keep us warm against the deadly chill.

I pray that every person in our adverse climate does have a warm place to live this time of year. May God provide shelter for even the lowliest person, no matter how they came to be without a warm bed.

At this time of year, the time of new beginnings for a new year, I pray that you have the warmth of God’s love in your heart to guard you against the bitter cold environment that has swept across the world in the form of an economic recession. Whether you know abundance or whether you are wondering where your next money to pay bills will come from, may you have the confidence of God that gives you courage to face whatever the world may bring, and may you have the certainty that God will provide, even in the midst of economic dire straits.

“O God, you are faithful through the ages. While our courage wavers, yet we pray that you will not leave us or forsake us at this difficult hour. Watch over us and grant us our daily bread. May we have the long range vision to see past this time of challenge to better days ahead.

“Lord God, may your mercy especially shower upon those who have been hardest hit by conditions beyond their control. Show us how we can share even a little bit with someone in need.

“God, this time reminds us that our fate rests in your hands, and our faith gives us rest no matter what fate may bring. Bless us and keep us, we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.”

May 2009 be a year to grow in faith and faithfulness. May every day of the year be a blessing to you and an opportunity to bless the world in some sincere little way. Peace.