WHEN I ARRIVED at the office this morning – just after 9AM – here at the corner of Grant Avenue and Cambridge Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the radio announcer on 92.1FM (“Winnipeg’s original, classic rock station!”) was just reporting that “the current temperature [was] -33C with a wind-chill of -43C, under partly cloudy skies, expecting a high of -28C.”

The most disturbing part of this morning’s 9AM weather report was that the ‘high’ of -28C … had already been achieved … and passed, on our way down through -33C and beyond …!

It wasn’t until sometime after we arrived here at Bethesda that I learned (or relearned) that the Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature scales meet at … -40 degrees.

I’m quite sure that I once had to retain that bit of knowledge for somebody’s test at some point — most probably to pass Mr. Diffenbaugh’s 11th-grade chemistry class at Huntington North High School in 1978-79. But never having had to deal with this particular scientific fact in any practical way before, it had somehow slipped away.

NOT ANY MORE!

Please believe me when I say that -40 is C-O-L-D, any way you measure it — whether you take the lead in such matters of a Swedish astronomer (Anders Celsius) or a German physicist (Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit)!

It is for this exact reason that both sets of our parents/in-laws have made quite clear to us that, though they love us and look forward to every moment they can get with us — well, espcially with our kids/their “grandbabies,” if we want them to visit us here in our new(ish) home in the Winter-Wonderland of Winterpeg, we should only expect them between April and September!

As for me and my house, I do take some solace in the abundant evidence around us that such brutal, and dangerous, conditions can be overcome, trancended even.

In our congregation, something close to a third of our folks are seventy-plus-years-old, including a remarkable percentage of those over ninety! This reflects more generally the demographic of our beautiful, adopted city. And most of these sturdy people – whether by birth or by marriage – have lived here in Winnipeg for most, if not all of their lives ….

     (My wife Shelly has a working hypothesis: Because of the regular but brief periods of extreme cold during the winter, there is some powerfully preservative aspect to life in here in Winnipeg that is evident in the number and percentage of our ‘older’ Winnipeggers! Editor’s note: this is simply an unproven hypthesis, which hasn’t gained any known scientific traction … yet!)

So for those of you who’ve resisted the urge to live in — or even visit – us here in The ‘Peg, during our most distinctive and beautiful time of the year, perhaps one of the former leaders of my home country of the United States of America said it best:

     “The only thing we have to fear … is fear itself!” — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Hmm … that sounds strangely like something Jesus might’ve said. But wait, it sounds strikingly similar to something that Jesus DID say:

     “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” – Jesus (Mark 4:40)

And …

     “Do not fear, only believe!” — Jesus (Mark 5:36)

God’s grace and peace to you and yours from me and mine!

Pastor Mark

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