Our first week in Scotland both commenced and concluded in a winter wonderland of crisp white snow. Our landing into Edinburgh was shrouded in fog, giving a sense of intriguing mystery to the first few moments here. The fog lifting, we were welcomed by the Scottish landscape dusted with fresh white snow. Now on the following Saturday, we have again been enchanted by the beauty of freshly falling snow. Our travels today took us to the lovely town of Luss on Loch Lomond. While obscuring a greater view of the Loch itself, the big flakes of silent falling snow only enhanced the beauty of the scenery as we walked through the quaint village.
But it has not been the welcoming of the snowy landscape which has ultimately made this week, rather the welcome of the people here which has made this first week wonderful. Everyone from the Aidrie RP Church has extended such gracious hospitality and warm words of encouragement even though we are virtual strangers. That is something for which I am extremely thankful.
I have also been blessed already by our classes. Each class offers an excellent opportunity to ponder the things of Christ and grapple with the most important things in life. As one of my professors put it, this semester “offers a time to think about the things which really matter.” And that certainly rings true. In one week alone through the coursework, it has been a meaningful time to reflect, read about, and study the things which do really matter – the knowledge of God and growing in conformity to Christ.
I am also amazed at all the adventures which we have had in just one week, – some of them difficulties, but most of them wonderful experiences and travels. From just barely making our connecting flight to Edinburgh in time and having delayed luggage, to visiting Bannockburn, Stirling Castle, and Loch Lomond, you could say the week has been all over the map. On our Wednesday trip to Stirling Castle we were blessed to have Jimmy and Helen Fisher as our tour guides. They have already showed us not only very beautiful places but places saturated with history and meaning. Just one example was seeing the chapel where John Knox preached in Stirling Castle. Overall, the adventures of this first week only make me look forward all the more to the rest of the semester.
Driving back from Loch Lomond to our flat in the beautiful snow, I was thinking back on this week and what we have been studying. Because we are studying a number of theology related subjects, much of the course material we covered this week started by considering the black backdrop of sin. It is against this background that the gospel gleams so bright. The recurring theme of sin coupled with the beauty of the clean white snow brought to mind the gospel foretelling promise in Isaiah: “ Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they will be like wool” (Is. 1:18). Considering how bad sin truly is, this is an absolutely amazing promise!