Mrs Hosier and I have a thing about snowdrops.
Almost as soon as Christmas is past we begin saying, “Not long now till the snowdrops appear,” and we eagerly await these first harbingers of spring. There is something magical about the perfect white flowers, tinged with green and yellow, suddenly emerging from the deadness of winter. I love them.
Today we visited Kingston Lacy which is justly famous for its carpets of snowdrops. They were magnificent, but almost too much. For me the magic of the snowdrop is in suddenly coming across a clump in the woods, or seeing them burst into life at the side of a road. It is this sudden, and subtle, appearing that most powerfully demonstrates that winter will not win. To see them in great swathes, like some more common and less romantic flower, diluted their magic for me.
Some strands of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity like their encounters with God to be like a field of oil seed rape – overwhelming, unavoidable, and ubiquitous. But I’m not sure that is really how God reveals himself to us in this age. It seems to me that God tends to appear amongst us like snowdrops at the end of winter. This is the God who chooses to be sought out – we need to keep our eyes open. And this is the God whose appearing is so overwhelming in part because it is so subtle. This is the God who suddenly brightens our vision, in the way a drab roadside is suddenly transformed by a patch of brilliant white flowers. This is a God who does not want us to become effectively anaesthetized to the mystery of his presence by an artificial planting of spiritual experience.
One day we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Until that day our eyes are not capable of encompassing his glory. Yet in his mercy he reveals himself to us, and the winter cannot win.
I pray that in your church tomorrow – and in mine – you receive a glimpse of this God, and that your heart and soul are gladdened by his beauty. The winter cannot win.
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