Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends,

Winter or Spring? Looking for signs of hope.

‘We have not had a real winter yet’ someone said to me the other day. In the last couple of years by the end of January, most areas of Scotland have had weeks of frosty weather with heavy snowfalls.  The mornings may still be dark, but spring is on its way.

Yesterday I conducted a funeral for Rene, an 86 year old recent member of our church in Crieff. In the last few days of her life, her daughter placed beside hospital bed a pot with snowdrops in flower. They were one of her favourite plants. Outside our church, bunches of snowdrops are now showing their white umbrellas as if to say, even in the winter there are signs of spring ahead. I love the way snowdrops carpet the forest floor in so many glens. Last year I was awed by the spectacular display of so many varieties of snowdrop at the Cambo  Estate near St Andrews. I can understand why they have been called a symbol of hope – as they flower in the depth of winter, but seem to promise that spring is not far off.

In the long dark Scottish winters, the world seems bleak and unfriendly. Many find their energy levels are low. We desperately need all the signs of hope we can get, that the weather will get warmer and spring will arrive. Many people feel the cold of a spiritual winter in our land. The darkness of broken relationships and failed expectations cover many with a cloud of despair. Will life ever get better? Will winter give way to spring?

Jesus promised that He would return to earth to end all the pain and suffering. John 14:1-3. We are living in a wintry spiritual climate. Christ promised that He would send us signs of hope before He returns. Every time I hear some bad news: a ship sinking, a terrorist attack, a car accident, a church closing down, as awful as they are, they are reminders that this world is in perpetual winter. On the other hand, when we see generous acts of kindness and love, we see embedded in this inclement season signs that spring is on its way.

Christ will come back soon and Jesus will initiate a new season that will take all His beloved children into a balmy perpetual summer where the warmth of His love will never fade. For His friends, relationships will be restored and God will banish winter forever! In the meantime let’s bring God’s hope to the world, by our kindness and witness. I believe the promise of Christ – winter is passing and the Spring of God’s new kingdom is coming soon! I invite you to discover and feel the warmth of this promise – today.

May God fill you with His hope.

Pastor Bernie Holford