springtime talk

The boy is serious about his chess.

I managed to get my talk written yesterday afternoon and evening as my spouse and son talked computers and then played out the final match-up of the family chess tournament my son orchestrated. (His dad won, but the newly 12-year-old played an excellent game. If he didn’t occasionally miss something, he would win every time, I think.) Anyway, it doesn’t feel like anything super profound, butI like it well enough, so I thought I would go ahead and post it here. Some of it is verbatim what I said yesterday and a big chunk is me quoting Kristin’s blog which I will link instead of paste in here. It’s better with the photos anyway.

I love Spring. It has always been my favorite season, and not only because I have a spring birthday.
To me, springtime speaks of cool but not cold weather, possible rainy days, our green season, and bright blooming flowers. Also, my birthday.
If, like I did, you grew up watching Bambi, Springtime is the time for love, when all the animals are twitterpated.
In Chaucer’s medieval England, Spring is when folks “longen to goon on pilgrimages” to see the sainted St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in the Canterbury Tales.
Symbolically in literature Spring is youth. Spring is youth. Summer is the prime of adulthood. Fall is middle aged. And winter is aging.
So springtime is green and blooming; it’s time to get out of the house; it’s time for love, and it’s the epitome of youth. But it’s more than that. In the Christian tradition, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is the time of the resurrection, and it reminds us every year that it is a time for resurrection and renewal. The date for Easter is determined by the first full moon after the vernal equinox, so Easter will always be in spring. When we celebrate the cycle of the year, the idea that what has died is now alive again, we also celebrate THE resurrection. I love Eastertide, this season of looking at the resurrection appearances of Jesus. He appears to Mary in the garden. Now there’s an spring image. Or at least it always has been for me. Enough so that Mary thinks he’s the gardener. We see Mary and Jesus among the plants and flowers as he speaks her name, and she recognizes who he is. Other resurrection appearances also feel like springtime moments: a walk on the road to Emmaus, breakfast on the beach, an outside gathering before he ascends. All of these are springtime moments: the disciples on the road to Emmaus see Jesus with new eyes, a new understanding. Peter is given a second chance in that breakfast on the beach. You denied me three times, now three times I will ask you if you love me and command you to feed my sheep. And just before the ascension, all of those listening are given a new mission, to go beyond their little group in Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and all the ends of the earth, sharing the good news and baptizing people into new life in Jesus’ name. Renewal for the whole earth. That is a springtime command if ever there was one. We need all of the seasons, but it is in Spring that renewal, new life, growth happens. As Jesus said earlier, “look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.” Spring is the time of new life so that fullness of life may come.
The resurrection appearances are certainly moments of Springtime, and each year they remind us of that ultimate truth, that God is more than death, that resurrection is possible. I think it can be helpful, while remembering the ultimate resurrection, to look for small resurrections, moments of renewal, moments of redemption wherever we are. I think of Peter raising Tabitha from the dead in Acts. Here is a woman who has done good her whole life, and Peter shows the power of God by raising her. I also think of Saul who becomes Paul and his conversion and redemption on the road to Damascus. There are resurrection stories all around us. When people are able to change their minds and see things a new way, that’s a resurrection story. When people are reconciled after being estranged, that’s a resurrection story. When we listen to one another and really love our neighbors, that’s a resurrection story.
There are also resurrection moments in Springtime in the natural world around us. Nature suggests the resurrection all the time. Butterflies are a symbol for us of the resurrection as they move from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. My blog friend Kristin tells this story about Spring and butterflies and resurrection. Nature in the Butterfly Garden, Bewitching and Terrifying.

And so we see resurrection and redemption in everyday life, in the butterflies emerging from the chrysalis, the snake saved from drowning that doesn’t eat the butterflies. The butterflies flying away to new life.
This is springtime: Resurrection appearances in the Bible, resurrection and redemption moments all around us, resurrection and redemption in the natural world.
In this year, Springtime seems particularly poignant. As we very slowly move from a year of winter, a year of lent, into what’s next, it really does feel like SPRING, all caps. As people are being vaccinated, as we slowly move into a new way of being outside and around one another, as life slowly moves forward after a year of minimal movement, spring seems to have an all new meaning, at least for me. But this isn’t a California spring, a few weeks of beautiful weather, green mountains, wild flowers and then summer is here. It may be more like a midwestern spring: one day it’s snowing and then another day green is peeking out of the ground and another day the frost hits again and finally there are sure signs that the trees are budding and frost may hit again, but it won’t keep spring from coming. Spring is coming. It may not be as swift as we would like. It may not be as easy as we would like. And it won’t look exactly like it did. But spring is coming, and we can say with the poet of the song of songs,
“for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”
As we cautiously move forward, let us watch for spring and notice the moments of joy and redemption and resurrection all around us, and let us know that the time of singing will come.

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