The New Year has arrived bringing with it yet more icy wind and snow. This may be the year of the icicle and the ice storm and so here and now let us pledge to keep each other in our prayers, especially those who have to commute to work or go out in the snow.
When I did local history work I learned that the old fashioned word for ‘ice storm’ was ‘silver thaw.’ What a beautiful description! What a perfect way to talk about a storm that wraps layer on layer of glistening silvery ice around all it touches. When it comes to beauty, the flawless crystal sculptures of God’s marvelous creation is unparalleled.
It is enrapturing—but also freezing cold and treacherous. The power of the storm itself leaves us humbled. We may be dazzled, but we dare not move. We stay inside, pressing our faces to the window as God’s good world gets wrapped in crystal. And even as we marvel, we wish very much that it would melt.
Please stay warm this new January of 2017 during what the Farmer’s Almanac has promised will be a very cold winter. Through the cold days, find ways to spread the warmth, love and light of Christ.
To help keep your Spirit warm, here is the story of John Wesley’s New Year moving from 1738-1739. In 1738, John Wesley returned from a missionary journey to the Americas & had the experience of his heart strangely warmed, an experience he linked with an assurance of salvation.
He and other young clergy from Oxford were meeting regularly at Fetter Lane and they were filled with a hope for their revival movement as it was gaining traction all around them. They were in high spirits and spent New Year’s Eve and early morning in prayer and conversation together.
John Wesley wrote about the events that New Year’s: “About three in the morning, as we were continuing constant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his majesty we broke out with one voice, ‘We praise thee, O God, we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.'”
For Wesley and others, the ecstatic joy was a sign of the great work that God was making possible. The experience was so powerful that some met again just a few days later for more prayer and conversation as they asked questions and worked to discern what the Spirit was calling from them next.
George Whitefield, who was part of the group, wrote of this second meeting: “What we were in doubt about, after prayer, we determined by lot, and everything else was carried on with great love, meekness, and devotion. We continued in fasting and prayer till three o’clock, and then parted, with a full conviction that God was going to do great things among us.”
In 1739 George Whitefield and both John and Charles Wesley turned to the greater parish. Barred from preaching in many Anglican churches, they stepped out into the coal fields and the streets. In so doing they found a parallel energy to that of the early church, for many disciples and apostles had been themselves barred from ‘respectable’ places of worship and as a result had also reached instead into the “highways and hedges” to share their zeal.
May this zeal, then, in 2017, warm and inspire you when the ice and snow bring cold, stormy weather this winter. In prayer and by the inner fire of the Spirit, may your heart be fully, if strangely, warmed.
Blessings to each and all of you,
Photo: Ice Storm by Paul Thompson 2007 Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Quotes from John Wesley the Methodist.