“It’s cold!” I said to Mike behind the counter at Tim Hortons. His response was quick and to the point, “It’s not July, you know.” The dialogue continued as I said, “But it’s not January either.” Leslie - who I never see until she emerges from the back with my Dark Roast (which means she sees me long before I notice her) - only smiled, but my mind was on the man wearing shorts I had seen in the parking lot. Some people, it seems, could wear shorts - outdoors - year round. Me? I've been using my electric blanket since October.
Cold! That's how the Red Wings started their season. And the word is not just talking about the ice! But, at least for the time, they have turned things around. They have clawed their way to .500. The Lions are a completely different story.
Cold weather I do not mind. Our summer seemed so long and beautiful this year that I was absolutely ready for autumn's cool breezes. And the snow-covered landscape of Tuesday morning was breathtaking (especially because the roads were barren). I can even tolerate my favorite team going cold. A Free Press article on the Wings today bears the warning "Winter is coming." That same article goes on to say, "The Wings are having fun coming to the rink after a miserable opening month ... But it's unlikely to segue into a playoff birth." Author St. James is hoping the Wings are cold enough this year to gain a top draft pick.
Jesus, in the temple courts shortly before his arrest, speaks of a totally different kind of cold. He says, "Many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold." (Matthew 24.10-12) My intent is not to make any kind of political statement here. Jesus is not directing these comments at any nation - or political party. Rather, he is addressing it to those who profess to be his followers - his disciples!
Christians and pagans alike use heavy coats, scarves and gloves when the weather turns cold. You can't tell them apart by their winter garb. I have no idea where that man in the shorts stood on anything. The same goes for Red Wing fans, skiing fanatics and snowbirds. We all get cold.
Yet none of this - not even the ice that grows in some believers hearts - will ever be able to put out the light and heat of the Holy Spirit in our world. Speaking of his flame in the verses immediately following those quoted above, Jesus goes on to say, "BUT the one who endures to the end will be saved. AND this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations." (Matthew 24.13-14)
I think it was Dean Martin who first sang, "Baby, It's cold outside", but he's far from the only one (Have you seen the Idina Menzel-Michael Buble video?). Similarly, I doubt I am the only one noticing the increase of lawlessness and the many hearts that seem to be turning cold. The good news is that the heart of our Savior, Jesus, never turns cold. Basking in the warmth of his forgiving, heart-changing love, we are able to sing, "Baby It's Cold Outside" and "Jesus Loves Me This I know" at the same time.
And, as we live out this message - no matter the temperature in the air or in the hearts of those around - at least two important things begin to happen. But I don't have to describe them. I think you can figure them out on your own!