Welcome to your new home – Look, See, Pray

Wirksworth, December 1988

That weekend is etched in my memory. As I put out the milk bottles, light powdery snow danced through the rays of the streetlamp. “Oh,” I said boldly, “That won’t lay.” The new pastor-in-town (me) had a lot to learn about Derbyshire!

Saturday morning dawned suspiciously bright throught the new curtains. Shivers chased down our ribs as we emerged, blinking, from under the duvet.

16 inches of snow blessed the road outside. The drifts were deeper. Thick rolls of clingy white stuff turned telephone lines into 2-inch ropes which came crashing down under their own weight, pulling the plug on the phone system. Roads were impassible. Our paperboy didn’t turn up! This was the land of milk and honey newly married Sussex southerners had been been plunged into… what had we done???

Our first church we had been called to serve; it was our first Christmas in ten days. How should I respond to the crisis? Cancel Christmas! Send for the snow ploughs! Where’s Rudolph when you need a reindeer?

Yes, I was a tad over-dramatic. On the Sussex coast, three snowflakes was ALWAYS a cause for a national holiday and the breakdown of all public transport until further notice.

Derbyshire folk were tougher than that. Hardly had I tied my dressing-gown cord when I spied neighbours, “old” people, you know, in their 60s and 70s shovelling snow and clearing footpaths. The existence of a large – think Ben Nevis, no exaggeration – heap of rocksalt & grit in the town should have given me a clue. By Sunday lunchtime pretty much everywhere was clear enough to get about (and these “feeble” ancient folk I’d been so worried about turned up in good cheer for Sunday service, jolly and talking about times when they’d had REAL snow…).

Welcome to our new home.

The Bible has stories of people whom God calls to new places and new tasks. Some struggle, some thrive- and God teaches them faith as they explore their new “home.”

Abram is called from the town-with-no-need-for-a-nickname (Ur) and not actually told where he was going. Jacob picks up more airmiles than he ever expected. Gideon hides in a winepress just before God makes him a general of the army. Jonah gets to tell Nineveh that God is pretty angry- and then the wretched Ninevites turned back to God! Jonah says “I told you so” and sulked in the shade of a plant (that promptly died).

Mary and Joseph get to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, have a baby, go to Egypt…

Just think about Jesus. Son of God, leaving glory for a new life as a teeny-weeny blob, then thrust out into a world where loads of people wanted him dead. That’s Christmas.

Aye, lad. Welcome to your new home.”

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