Sunday, February 10th

 Good afternoon, Risen Hope family!

Some of the leaders and I have made the call to cancel our normal service on Sunday due to road conditions and the closure of John Muir.

There are other options to consider for worship tomorrow. (1) First, if you can, find ways to enjoy God and his grace from the comfort of your home. (2) If you belong to one of our groups or even have friends that live nearby, sync up with them and find out if they’d like to spend time together this Sunday enjoying food and fellowship. (3) Finally, we have a small office space in Kingsgate Plaza between Factory Donuts and Allstate at 12507 NE 144th St, Kirkland, WA 98034, and we’ll have a handful of people meeting there at 10:00am for a brief time of prayer, readings, and worship. If you can safely navigate there, perhaps even walk, this option is available to you. There won’t be child care, but all are welcome to participate.

Please prioritize safety first in any decision you make. Don’t take unnecessary risks to travel, when you can worship the God we adore from any location. That said, I’m definitely disappointed that I won’t get to see all of you tomorrow, but I’m also very grateful that God is giving our faithful volunteers a weekend to rest and, God-willing, I’m looking forward to next Sunday already and returning to our journey through the Book of Ruth.

When it became apparent that our normal service could potentially be cancelled, I gave some thought to what I might say in writing to encourage you all this Lord’s Day, since I have no opportunity to do so through the ordinary means of preaching. As I was considering this, my mind went to a specific verse in the Book of Isaiah, a fitting text considering what it looks like outside:

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. – Isaiah 1:18

Have you ever wondered why God made snow? He could have created the same kind of reality in a thousand different ways, yet he didn’t: he chose to create snow and create it specifically the way we see and experience it in this world. So why?

If you look out the window, you may even see it falling from the sky right now: small crystals of ice, which are simply a drop of moisture freezing around a dust particle in the atmosphere. And as that frozen moisture falls through various temperatures and conditions in the sky, it grows into an incredibly intricate and complex shape: and it becomes snow. Job 37:6 says that the reason we have snow in the first place, is because God tells it to fall on the earth. In other words, snow comes from God. So no matter the thousands of naturalistic explanations for why it physically snows, the ultimate reason underneath all of those is because God decided for it to snow. Psalm 147 tells us as much:

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? – Psalm 147:15-17

And as we witness this act of divine power this weekend, the psalmist encourages us to worship. So, I’d encourage you to do this while you can. Snow is a profound display of God’s extraordinary power and it shows us how we are all at his mercy in every conceivable way. You know this already if you tried to go to a grocery store in the last 48 hours: we are absolutely at the mercy of God’s great power. If he desires to send people into a tizzy, and empty the shelves of Safeway, QFC, and Fred Meyer: he does it with little effort. Yet, is that the ultimate reason for snow: his awesome power over the natural world? Not according to Scripture. Though there are countless glories in God that we will enjoy and worship for eternity, the most important and ultimate one isn’t his great strength and power, but rather, it is his unparalleled grace.

According to Ephesians 1:3-10, God’s plan for the fullness of time was the exaltation of his redemptive grace on the cross of Christ, so that his people would respond with praise for the glory of his grace (v.6; NASB). This is why we exist. This is why the universe exists. And this is ultimately why snow exists: the glory of his grace.

Isaiah 1:18 says that the fall of snow on the broken and imperfect surface of this world is intended to be a vivid parable of God’s forgiveness of his people and his clothing of us with the righteousness of Christ. Though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. The greater reality is not the icy precipitation that frequents the winter season, but rather the eternal redemption it points to: in other words, snow isn’t just an example Isaiah pulled from the natural world to describe forgiveness, but rather, the God who made the natural world and the snow it, created it explicitly with Isaiah 1:18 in mind.

As sinners, we come to God like David does in Psalm 51:7 and say to him: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” and, in that moment, the natural, temporary, and scientific glory of snow is brought to serve a far greater eternal purpose: God forgives us and clothes us in the righteousness of Christ Jesus through his Son’s work on the cross.

Now when we look at snow, let’s do our best to let its radiant and pure color have the God-intended effect of reminding us of the glory of his grace, and the redemption found only in Christ Jesus. Although the snow will eventually melt and fade away, the righteousness found in Christ Jesus will clothe us always, and eventually bring us into his presence with an immeasurable and unsearchable joy that will never fade away.

Your servant for the sake of Christ,