It snows a lot in Duluth, Minnesota where I currently live, and serve as a steward of God’s gifts. This past December it not only snowed a lot, but it also snowed more than it has ever snowed before in the month of December. How much snow does it take to break a record in the Northland? 44.7 inches of snow to be exact. That’s over three feet of snow, closer to four. It is so much snow that some places in my yard are two feet taller than my son. If I try to walk through it, my leg plunges all the way down until I am standing waist-deep in this winter wonderland.
I know, snow isn’t for everyone. It can be rather disruptive. It can be a pain. You have to shovel, or snow-blow the driveway every time it happens just to get on with your day. It delays mail, causes long and arduous commutes, and it makes everything cold and wet. Yet, there is something beautiful about snow. Especially snowman-building snow. You know, snowman-building snow? The kind of snow that is sticky. It makes for perfect snowballs and aids in the creation of a perfect snowman; coal eyes, carrot nose, hat, and all. This kind of snow sticks. It sticks to everything.
After one of our recent snowstorms which brought the vast majority of the snow, I looked around my backyard. Everything, and I mean everything, was covered in snow. Trees were layered with it, roofs were full, yards covered, mailboxes suddenly appeared to be shorter, and roads for a moment didn’t exist. Every branch, every inch of the world, at least my world was covered by snow that stuck to it all. It was a beautiful sight.
As we enter into Epiphany, we hear John the Baptist proclaim the coming Christ. “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” This world, our world, my world, and your world. The world that is so stained with sin that it seems impossible to get out. It infects everyone and everything. It is impossible to get away from, and even more impossible to cure. We look around at the world and see it evident in all places, from the dying trees to the broken marriages to the horrors we take in on mini-screens in our pockets. Sin is everywhere, in your world, my world, and our world. Yet for a moment I was reminded that while sin is so evident, like a blood stain on a white shirt, it can be covered.
As I was shoveling off my deck in fear of it collapsing under the weight, I paused for a moment as the words of Isaiah came to mind. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” (Isaiah 1:18). The world, your world, my world, our world, was covered. It was made white as snow. This snow stuck to everything; nothing could get away from it no matter what it did. The trees, cars, houses, all of it, covered by an abundance of white. Just as God’s grace covers us in an abundance of white.
God’s grace comes in a similar fashion. It doesn’t only come upon us in small dustings, but it comes upon us in an overwhelming fashion. It covers our crimson stains, it makes them white, and it sticks. It clings to us; it transforms us so that we almost don’t recognize what came before. Regardless of what was before, all that can be seen now is radiant white. The sin of the world, your sin, my sin, our sin, covered by the blood of the Lamb. This is what Christ comes to do. He comes to give to you abundantly. He comes to shower you with grace and mercy. He comes to give you more than you need. He comes to make your crimson sins white as snow.
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This world, your world, my world, our world. Blessed Epiphany to you. Your sins that were once scarlet have been made white as snow.