Bad news: winter is coming.
Good news: winter is coming.
Winter will kill the bugs!
A little over a week ago, I was out in our woods, trimming tree branches. The next day, my wife spotted deer ticks on me. She got them off with tweezers, and then took me to my doctor. I'm fine...we got them off in time...no Lyme disease. But I look forward to winter and how it will kill the ticks...and the gnats...and the mosquitos.
I could never live down south. Not only is it too hot, but the bugs are the size of small dogs. So I know a lot of people hate our winters. But I kind of like them. Not only do they kill bugs, but I like being out in the cold: it's invigorating. I like the beauty of snow: it can be stunning. I like having a fire in our wood stove: it's so cozy, and I love cozy.
So, whether you think it's bad news or good news, it is what it is: winter is coming. You have to get ready for it. I have firewood stacked inside our garage. My snowblower is all warmed up. I had snow tires put on our car. And I've got warm clothes ready for my outdoor walks. It's been said that there is no such thing as bad weather...only bad clothing and gear.
Winter is coming, and you have to be ready.
And today's readings from Scripture have the same message. Be ready. It's coming. Be ready.
Life can change in a heartbeat. If you don't know that, you're either too young, or you're not paying attention.
Today's Bible readings are clear. Be ready. Every human being is accountable to God. Any day could be the last day. Live your life so the preacher doesn't have to lie at your funeral.
Be ready. Every day is a gift. We don't know how long the gift will last. The Day of the Lord will come...either when the world ends, or, more likely, when my life on earth ends.
I don't know when my life will end, but I know it will. In my line of work, I am never allowed to forget that. I do a lot of funerals, and a lot of hospital visits, and a lot of rehab unit visits. I am continually reminded of how important it is to appreciate the blessings of each day. I am continually reminded of how important it is to tell the people I care about that I love them. I am continually reminded of how important it is to apologize when I mess up. It's all part of being ready.
We've just passed Halloween. A whole lot of pumpkins got turned into jack-o-lanterns. I loved carving pumpkins when I was a kid. You plunge the knife into a pumpkin and cut around that stem to make a lid. Then you pull the stem and the lid off.
And what's next? You have to stick your hands in there and pull out the glop. It's partly pumpkin seeds, and partly pumpkin guts. It's slimy and gooey. But you have to clean out the glop to make a cool jack-o-lantern.
I've heard it said that we are all like pumpkins. We have to get our glop cleaned out.
How? Well, the old-fashioned word, the one Jesus used, is "repentance." It means recognizing our shortcomings, apologizing, and making changes for the better. Getting the glop out.
Jesus didn't quite say this, but almost: "I am the vine, you are the pumpkins." But unlike with pumpkins, our glop keeps growing back. So we have to keep on cleaning it out. We need to confess and repent and start over...again and again. And that's part of what it means to be ready.
It's what today's Scripture readings call us to do. Life can change in a heartbeat.
So, seek forgiveness whenever necessary.
Give forgiveness every day.
Be kind every day.
Be loving every day.
And be thankful every day.