It is no secret that the founder of our Church is a keen ice sports person. Or that I am a fan of one of the greatest sermons ever preached in my opinion. The one given by Rhiny Fletcher, an ice sports enthusiast himself, at Littleport’s Primitive Methodist Chapel on the Hundred Foot Bank in 1900!
And he is the inspiration for this 2017 winter-time message to you.
Preacher Fletcher maintained that ‘Job was a skater’ and quoted several bible verses from the story of the long-suffering Job to prove it.
I share his love of the ice – and God, and will do what I can to add more to his premise, so that I may share that love with you, more than a hundred years on. Because I also think that God is the Supreme Skater!
Now some of us feel that we are as near to heaven as we may ever get while still on this troubled earth plane, when we see sheets of ice, whether in modern all-yearround buildings built for the purpose, in our backyards, or covering the fens.
Even those who can no longer skate themselves, like me, can feel their spirits uplifted just by experiencing that frosty nip in the air, and looking on a whitely transformed, frozen landscape.
The fact is, that God made the winter, and its ice, for us, as a specially devised and blessed season.
It says so in Genesis Chapter 18 verse 22. ‘As long as the earth endures, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’
And ice is mentioned 41 times in the bible, from one of the plagues God sent as an ice storm in Exodus, through to the last, where God is seen seated on his throne at the edge of a vast ice sheet, described as glass, with all the good people who have ever been standing on it, in Revelation.
Rhiny Fletcher pointed out that in his book, Job says, “By the breath of God frost is given.’’ And the good preacher comments that we know as well as he does that frost makes ice, and ice makes skating.
Luckily for us, when God spoke to Job, the divine utterances were written down. He asked him rhetorical questions, two thus: “Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven who gendered it? The waters are hidden as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.”
Following on from Job’s story is the book of Psalms. King David, who was a shepherd and knew all about winter, and the will of God, first hand, wrote this psalm (147) saying, ‘Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments.’
Winter is mentioned 5 times in the Old Testament, and 7 in the New Covenant.
It’s during one of those seven winter mentions that Jesus goes to the synagogue, Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, to celebrate the festival of lights, Chanukah, gets into trouble with the orthodox sect there, and after that dispute is called to visit the sister of Lazarus, and raises him from the dead!
I hope that you have found this look into the bible from a skater’s point of view interesting. I couldn’t better Rhiny Fletcher’s sermon. And living and working conditions have since changed for the people of Littleport, many of whom now come from diverse places and backgrounds.
But be assured that God is the same as He ever was, and the winter has followed on from autumn as decreed – and the ice that us skaters always pray for, as they did in Rhiny Fletcher’s day, may well be in the offing, as it already was when he gave that sermon.
Revelation, Chapter 15: And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” ~Job 37:6
“From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?” ~Job 38:29
“Out of the south comes the storm, And out of the north the cold. From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen.” ~Job 37:9-10
“Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, For he refreshes the soul of his masters.” ~Proverbs 25:13
“Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.” ~Proverbs 25:20