It’s not supposed to be snowing anymore, but it is. The flurries continue to bring fury into our thoughts. “Just warm up already!” we think as we walk again into the cold and frigid wilderness. It’s not that we expect last year’s 75 degrees, but 28 degrees? It was 14 degrees last night! It’s Easter next week. Opening day of baseball follows a day after. We’re planning a sunrise service for Easter. We might have to stay inside. The Tigers open in Minnesota. I’m sure they’re lamenting that the Metrodome isn’t still being utilized. Needless to say, we’re all anxious to get on with things, to at least top out at 50 degrees and have April showers, of rain that is. We want to see the daffodils pop and the robins return.
Yet as I watched the snow fall last night a reminder came to my mind, a Lenten reminder. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1.18). In my anxiety for life to burst forth, the snow reminded me of what is needed in our hearts before any true life can blossom. We need a cleansing. We need to be made white like snow.
The relevance of this ties nicely as well with our Lenten series, My Brother’s Keeper. We opened Lent by exploring Genesis 4, one of the darkest chapters in the Bible, where Cain murders his brother Abel out of envious hate. As God questions Cain, he responds with frigid indifference, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God responds with words that should haunt us as a human race, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
His blood cried then. How much more blood has cried since then? How much is crying today? Oh, do we need a cleansing. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Bring the snow. Bring the beauty. Cleanse the soil of blood spilt. Cleanse our soul of hatred, of indifference, of the lust for violence. Though our sins are like scarlet, make them white as snow, make them disappear in righteousness.
This brings us to the cross, another bloody affair. The sons of Cain kill the Son of God. This merely fits a tragic pattern of the human search for peace. As Jesus comes to enter Jerusalem and face his enemies, he stops to look over the city and he weeps. “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19.42). Since the beginning, the search for peace in the human heart has included the spilling of blood. Cain began the pattern. Individuals, families, tribes, kingdoms, empires, and nations have continued it. Paul quotes Isaiah 59.7-8 in summarizing humanity, “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” Not a glorious picture of humanity, but why spread a false myth of human self-glory. That only has proven to bring more shedding of blood, whether through murder, conquest, or our culture’s boldness in thinking it has the right to judge whether a child is worthy to see the light of their first day.
What will bring peace? What will transform scarlet to white? The answer is Jesus’ blood. Because the only future that God saw for humanity was the pattern of Cain, Jesus came to shed his own innocent blood for redemption. He reversed the course of hatred and vengeance with the path of love and forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” God bless the snow, even on the second day of spring. If it can teach us what Jesus has done for us and remind us of the new life we have, let it snow. It can even snow on Easter! And we won’t even need the flowers because we’ll be those who are blossoming for the world to bring them the beauty and fragrance of God’s love and grace.