On the third Sunday of Advent, we lit the candle of Joy in worship. Then we experienced the joy of the wonderful Christmas Pageant – “Countdown to Christmas” – with its Living Advent Calendar. Maybe some of you kept an actual Advent calendar through the month of December, each day opening another little window to uncover each piece of the story of our Savior’s birth. I recently came across a similar idea for use in the month of January. Instead of an Ad-vent calendar, this is what you might call a Pre-vent calendar. It is designed to help prevent the cabin fever that can settle in during bleak midwinters, when frosty winds make moan, earth stands hard as iron, and water like a stone. There are 31 ideas for resisting the winter doldrums – one for each day of the month. The calendar can be found on-line at http://momlifetoday.com/2011/01/ideas-to-beat-cabin-fever-and-the-winter-blues/ Many of the ideas involve children, but even if you are empty nesters it can be fun to let the little child inside you come out and have fun with the games and activities of this Pre-vent calendar. Years ago, Sue and I took up the sport of snowshoeing as a way of curing cabin fever. While shopping for equipment, a salesman (who had no idea I was a minister) warned us that novices often confuse snowshoes with “Jesus shoes,” that is, they expect to be able to walk across the surface of the snow the way Jesus walked on water. I wonder if we don’t sometimes treat faith that way. We convince ourselves that if we have enough faith we will glide through the world on “Jesus shoes,” unscathed by life’s trials. Unlike such a “Jesus shoes” religion, a “snowshoe spirituality” knows that faith doesn’t immunize us from getting our feet wet now and then, no matter how prepared we think we may be. But it does guarantee that when we step out into the cold realities of the world, we are buoyed by a force that equips us to venture through life’s storms with surer footing than we would ever have on our own. Faith in Jesus, can impart courage to brave the bleak midwinters that might otherwise tempt us to stay home where all is safe and warm.