Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, January 21, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

I almost missed tea at St. Andrew’s University that afternoon. I was studying there, in Scotland, that summer, as part of my doctoral work, listening to lectures by William Barclay, the acclaimed Bible scholar, and others. I was not much of a golfer, but when you are at the home course of golf, The Ancient & Royal in St. Andrews, you need to play a round just so you can say you did it.

I can also almost say that I played with Bing Crosby since he was coming off the course just as I was going onto it, but that would be a stretch. He, however, had the good fortune to miss the rain.

A fellow student and I had rented clubs and headed out. About half-way through our round, the heavens opened in a serious attempt to wash St. Andrews into the Firth of Forth. The water got so deep that when we putted, the ball would just run across the top of the cup because it was full of water. We finally gave up and walked in. I was wearing a rain coat, but I was so soaked that even the money in my billfold had to be hung up to dry.

Helen got me into dry clothes and, knowing I needed it to get warmed up, down to tea time just before it ended. She then returned to our room to work on drying my  golf clothes. Not many people were still as tea, but Gretchen was. She was the wife of the senior priest of a big Episcopal Church in Florida. He was also in classes that summer, and I had gotten to know him, and like him, and so I was glad for a chance to get to know his wife as we sipped tea and ate scones.

As I did so, I thought, as always, of how much I had compared to so many in the world. “It makes me feel guilty,” I said to Gretchen, “to sit here, warm and dry, eating so well, when so many people have so little.”

She looked quite puzzled. “If God chooses to give me good things and to withhold them from others, that’s no concern of mine,” she said.

I was so flabbergasted I could think of nothing to say. Here was an educated intelligent woman… and surely Christian… although I know some wives of preachers who aren’t Christian… the one I know best, though, is Jewish and acts more Christianly than most Christians… but how could…

It’s terribly convenient, isn’t it, to be able to blame one’s selfishness and self-centeredness and greed on God? We are hearing a lot of that now, in this political season, and it is important that we call it by its true name, sin.

John Robert McFarland

I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…

I tweet as yooper1721.

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