Thursday, January 4, 2018

Even in a Bombogenesis in Worcester

Emmaus City Jesus is Better than Blizzard 2015 Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

When a snow cyclone called a bombogenesis hit Worcester, Massachusetts on Thursday, January 4, 2018, what did it mean to rejoice?

The last time I had a moment's pause like this was on the morning of February 16 in Worcester, Massachusetts, when the real temperature outside was 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This day came after Winter Storm Neptune unleashed an onslaught of snow and wind that placed our beloved city as the #1 snowiest city in the U.S. in 2015, which included an accumulation of 103 inches at the time.

And guess what? While we're not on a record-breaking snowfall pace this year (yet), 16.6 inches of snow hit Worcester today. And that's not even counting the subzero cold which is brutally breathtaking, and frustrating as it is also causing frost in my attic every time I open the door to get a book (yes, my library is in my attic). 

To quote The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore, "For lack of a better analogy, we are getting absolutely puked on right now." 

Multiple school and businesses are closed, my in-laws flight has been canceled and postponed, and the roads and hills will be turned into bobsled tracks with some commutes lasting for hours just to go a few miles.

But despite the wicked winters of New England, there is always a gracious perspective that can come into view. Whether it's Winter Storm Neptune's Blizzard in 2015 or Winter Storm Grayson's Bombogenesis today hurling their frosty spew to and fro throughout our beloved city's streets, I still had the strength and ability to step outside, breathe, and shovel. The winds kicked, the light and frothy snow swirled, and the drifts were blown everywhere. Including into my eyes, nose, and mouth. Repeatedly.

But as Annie sand, "the sun will come out tomorrow."

It's amazing how good the sunshine feels even when the temperature is seriously low. In fact, I would say it makes all the difference for me when freezing snow is blowing directly into my eyes, and encrusting itself on my eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard.

The same could be said for what I have found in the Son of God, or really, if I'm being honest, what He has revealed to me. When I see Jesus break through the tempest of my life, and I understand He is the Light that no darkness can overcome, and I feel His strength at work in softening my brittle heart and shaping my life, it has made all the difference even in the harshest conditions.  

If Jesus is alive and has conquered sin and death, and I believe He has, He overcomes anything that makes me settle for lesser comforts and saviors. 

Saint Paul also found this to be true in prison, and he wrote it down for the church in Philippi:  

I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13). 

So whether you believe Jesus to be a fantasy, a person, or perhaps Someone more, I invite you to join me in taking a moment at the close of this bombogenesis on Thursday to pray to the One who was there at your genesis, and can make all things new for your end. Here is my prayer to close the day:

Jesus, You are magnificent. Everything was created in You, through You, and for You. And during the course of an evening when I spent 2+ hours shoveling snow in the midst of howling winds and single digit temperatures, I'm thankful that You are Emanuel, God with me. Though my efforts at shoveling won't seem like much in the morning as the snow continues to be tossed to and fro, Your efforts to save me will never be blown away. Though my sins are scarlet with my selfishness, apathy, stubbornness, and rebellion, You wash them white as snow. Thank You for Your faithfulness to me, my family, my neighborhood, and my city. Bless Worcester tonight. May all who do not have a home find a shelter to lay their heads and warm food to fill their bellies. May kindness be extended to neighbors without snowblowers and may muscles be strengthened to shovel for others who don't have the ability to clear their sidewalks and driveways. May Your Good News be demonstrated and declared as You bring reconciliation and restoration during the storm tonight. We pray all these things in confidence because we are praying in Your mighty name. Amen.

Ultimately tonight, I pray that you would receive the gift of living in the miraculous contentment of receiving and knowing this Jesus I pray to who laid down His life for you. I I need to be reminded of this so often. If what Paul wrote is true, and I believe it is true, then we can rest in what Jesus has done for us and is doing for us. We can have the freedom to expand our prayers to brace against the physical, emotional, and spiritual storms of life because He endures with us, and His love is relentless. When I remember this in Christ, I am able to look beyond myself, find His strength sustaining me, and can begin to fulfill these ancient words even in the midst of a bombogenesis: 

Be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).

Paul didn't write these words in a time of ease and strength. He wrote these words in a jail after suffering an attempted murder on his life via stoning, beatings, and other horrendous obstacles while his friends in Philippi were also facing opposition. But because Paul's confidence was in Jesus and not in his circumstances, he could share these profound and powerful statements that have given life and encouragement to millions throughout millennia. 

So as the bombogenesis comes and goes, I invite you to discover again with me that the promise that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us is good news to go to sleep to tonight

P.S. For all my beloved neighbors who are looking for shelter from the storm tonight, please check out Grace Hotel at St. John's Catholic Church, 44 Temple Street, Worcester. You can learn more about Grace Hotel in the Worcester Magazine cover story, "For homeless, a saving grace."

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan


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