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White as snow

November 17, 2008

by Rev. Robert Hellmann, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Montrose

Recently, we saw snowflakes gently floating down from the sky on a winter evening. Snow is so beautiful – but not always.

It was a balmy November morning, with temperatures near 60. Duck hunters were out at their favorite spots along the Mississippi River.

Then, the weather turned ugly. First came rain, then sleet, then snow, along with plunging temperatures and high winds. Duck boats were no match for the wind and high waves on the river. Hunters were stranded overnight – some froze to death or drowned. Two trains collided head on in the blinding snow in Watkins, killing two. Three ships sank in Lake Michigan.

Snowfall was over two feet deep in some places. Forty-nine people died in Minnesota, and another 100 elsewhere. It was Nov. 11, 1940, the great Armistice Day blizzard in the Upper Midwest.

Sometimes, life is like a big snowstorm. You may feel snowed under by a blizzard of bills. Problems with family, health, school, or job pile up faster than you can deal with them.

To make it worse, the chill wind of a guilty conscience blows on you. Maybe you snapped at the kids, argued with your spouse, or cheated at work or school.

Maybe you ignored God except to use his name to curse. You feel frozen in the cold grip of sin and unbelief. You fear coming face-to-face with God in his holiness.

In about 700 BC. God spoke through Isaiah. the prophet. about the sins of Israel. “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” (Isaiah 1:4 )

But God also reached out with His love and forgiveness. In verse 18, He says, “Come now, let us reason together . . . Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” God offers full and free forgiveness of sins to a people snowed under by their sins.

Did God just change his mind and decide that sin is no big deal? No.

Instead, God the Son came to suffer the punishment for the sins of the world.

Isaiah 53:5 describes what Jesus did for all. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus died in your place to deliver you from sin, guilt, and death. So, every time it snows this winter, remember the Lord’s life-saving promise, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”

Jesus melts your frozen and faithless hearts and fills you with faith in him, the hope of heaven, and love for him and all people.