A Pile of Flash Cards in the Snow

From NASA, yesterday: This corner of the world under many miles of frigid air.

From NASA, yesterday: This corner of the world under many miles of frigid air.

It’s shaping up to be a winter much like we had last year. Which means it’s the kind that both sides of the climate change debate claim for themselves, and the kind that makes for some disquiet in a Pacific Northwestern soul. The van has the same grimy salt coat that the roads do, roads shouldered by a growing number of icy black geodes. It’s at the point where you don’t so much clear the driveway as you just push away the soft new snow from the bottom hard snow, what a liberal German theologian might call the grundscrust. The cold weather also means more lazing about, which in turn means you might wake up one morning with sore legs from bowling.

But there’s nothing like the clean, sharp winter night sky. If you had looked up into the frosted gloaming last night you would have seen Mars, Venus, and the two-day-old moon squeezed into a small slice of the heavens. A conjunction, it’s called. I used to keep up with those sky events, but it’s another thing, like fishing, that has fallen away somewhat since moving to Hamilton. Still, on clear nights after dinner I get the kids to find Venus, and we were all happy last night to find its shining companions.

I was also happy last night to relax, having arrived at reading week, and having put behind me the first Old Testament Canonics test. For this course we have to know what is contained in almost every chapter of the Old Testament, and that first test covered the Pentateuch, which are the five books of Moses. Going through 200 flashcards is long and tedious work, but it’s rewarding to know where to find things when you have to. Also, you’re working towards intimacy with a set of books that regulated the existence of an entire nation for over a thousand years, and a set of books in which God’s people may still behold wondrous things. So it’s a privilege, too.

The next test will cover the “Prophets” section, which is all the prophetic books plus the historical section from Joshua through 2 Kings. The final test will be on the “Writings,” which is everything else.

Somewhere in there is the small and simple book of Ruth, the second chapter of which is my final sermon text for the year. I’ve never had all of reading week to write a sermon before, and I’m looking forward to having the uncluttered reflection time. I said “simple,” but that’s relatively speaking. Every book in Scripture is full of depth and meaning, and it can be challenging to bring that out from a book that is familiar and straightforward. But even in the pages of Ruth is wisdom for salvation, a message that teaches, corrects, trains us for righteousness, and equips us for every good work. So my work is cut out.


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