Snow! (Rev. Carmen Retzlaff)
Snow at the Outdoor Church in Texas, Dec.
Advent Sermon Excerpt 12-10-17
Pastor Carmen Retzlaff
There is a power in connecting ritual to place, because it connects us to God through our natural and physical surroundings. John the Baptist knew that. He called his restless and seeking people out into the desert, into the waters of the Jordan, their main water source. He called them to pray and confess and repent there, and to be washed clean, literally, with the actions of ritual worship, not just the words.
So I’ve been thinking of that. When I was out in the tent where we worship in winter, meeting with people in the tent most of the day on Thursday, it got cold! And then—it was snowing! What began as sort of annoying discomfort, trying to get one or the other heater on, making tea to warm hands—turned into wonder and joy. I was on to the next in a series of meetings that day, and right in the middle of a discussion about big life things — love and loss and faith—we were reminded of joy. The miracle of nature and the joy of experiencing things like snow, just as we had as children. It reminded us of hope.
I don’t know if John’s listeners felt that way after they met him in the water. But maybe it reminded them that God was bigger than their fears and concerns. Maybe it reminded them of hope, too. Maybe John was reminding them to look to God, and to hope, by being out in nature, in God’s creation.