Dear Friends,

If ice didn’t float, all the lakes in Minnesota would freeze solid each winter and all the fish would die. On the other hand, if dead leaves floated, our lakes and rivers would be covered with a floating mass of decaying leaves. It's obviously true. Yet it's so much a part of life in Minnesota that I never thought about it until it was remarked upon in a journal. Diannah, who is originally from Louisiana, often tells how she nearly drove off the road the first time she saw trucks and little houses scattered where she was quite sure there was a lake.

The world is wonderfully made. Water is the only liquid that expands when it freezes, so the frozen stuff floats on the liquid part. All other liquids continue getting denser as they turn solid. Their frozen form doesn't float on their liquid form. Thus, a lake full of any one of them would freeze solid from top to bottom. Furthermore snow, which often piles up on ice, is a pretty good insulator. Once a layer of snow forms it slows down the freezing process even more.

What a great thing it is that ice floats and dead leaves sink! This world is perfectly suited to water-based life. Or else water-based life is perfectly suited to this world. In either case the result is the same—we are here to enjoy it.

For my Thanksgiving sermon a few years ago, I did a little research on what life was like around 130 years ago. It’s amazing the things we now take for granted that either didn’t exist, or were not yet common: indoor plumbing, central heat, electric lights, telephones, radios, cars and refrigerators. Not to mention television, microwave ovens, computers and now cell phones. My grandfather grew up traveling by horse and buggy and watched men walk on the moon.

Lately I’ve been thinking that people are on earth for basically two reasons: To glory in life, and to help make life glorious for other people and creatures. Today I glory in sitting in a warm, well lit room before a computer screen just down the hall from an indoor bathroom and thinking comfortably about how, fortunately, ice is lighter that water.

It's been a tough year. But let us remember how incredibly much we have to be grateful for. I hope you will now pause to give glory to God.

Peace be with you.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas D. Harries