“But the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12
The weather folk called for a dusting and we ended up with 10 inches of snow.
For this weather junkie, this was especially “good news of great joy!”
Our Snow Surprise! last week bucked the trend that we’ve come to expect here in winter. Around here, winter storms rarely sneak up on anyone. They emerge on someone’s computer screen days in advance and tease us with possibilities. The chatter at work and on social media reveals our anxiety about the potential disruption, and the volume of milk in our refrigerators escalates. And once the big day arrives, we sometimes discover that what looked like a historic snowstorm was only the enlarged shadow of our hopes, dreams or nightmares. The anticipated foot of snow becomes a windblown dusting of disruption. Meh.
Not. This. Time.
Sure, go ahead and claim that you saw last week’s snow coming. I’ll regretfully concede that it was not on my radar screen. True, I had kept up with the forecasts but agreed with the meteorologists that a brief hit of light snow was the best we could hope for. Instead, we were treated to the rising suspicion on Thursday evening that something might be up. The school system showed their cards and delayed school by a couple of hours hinting at the possibility that something more significant could be in the works. But still. When we were turning in that night, who among us expected that we’d see anything more than flurries?
But when we awoke to a couple of inches of snow on the ground and heard a rapidly changing forecast, it became clear that the weather forecasters had blown it. Deliciousness. It snowed a most-lovely and persistent snow. When the snow slacked off, it began again. When the heavy snow turned to flurries, it started up again in earnest. Snow upon snow, flake upon flake, our world was transformed into a Winter Wonderland of old.
Last week’s snow was for many of us a good surprise.* (see comment below)
The Bible tells us that a group of shepherds received a good surprise, as well. It’s not hard to imagine that what happened to them in the wee hours in a pasture surrounded by sheep was anything less than shocking. Angelic messengers made few
appearances, they knew, and they certainly wouldn’t waste their time on a bunch of ragtag, blue collar workers. But that was part of the surprise just as much as the actual message.
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
The shepherds could read between the lines: “God has decided to make good on His age-old promise to save His people! This is good news! And the fact that you lowly and looked-down-upon folk are hearing about it first reveals that this is great news for the world’s least of these.”
This is what a good surprise looks like.
Good news and good surprises can be in short supply. We may be so discouraged and dismayed by our circumstances that we cannot see anything good beyond our pain. Sometimes, God’s good news can’t be missed—the shepherds’ experience speaks to this. But at other times, good news and good surprises are more subtle and can be missed. God’s good surprises are often veiled in the mundane and the run-of-the-mill.
On Christmas Day so many years ago, the Shepherds’ eyes were opened and they saw the good that God was doing in their midst. May our eyes be opened this Christmas, as well, to see the blessings that God does shower upon us each day.
Who knows? Those showers of blessing and good news just might be snow showers.
*No, last week’s dumping of snow was not good news for everyone. Many of our neighbors and friends were without power and suffered other inconveniences. But, with apologies to these individuals, I am going to claim last week’s near-one-foot-of-snow event as a good surprise. Thank you in advance for permitting me some glee.