As Ohioans, we have a special understanding of spring. Every year we watch the seasons turn. Every year we enjoy and we endure that long season called winter. We know what it means to see the whole world grow dark, silent, and dead. We hunker down and wait through the long cold.
So, it is always with a unique joy that we greet the first robin and realize that the trees are waking up again. It is with a pleasure those further south do not know that we watch our streams flood with melted snow and our fields grow sticky with mud and newly sprouting life. I look forward to the sunlight shining through the translucent green of new leaves. The sharp contrast between winter and spring is the poetry of the north. Every year the impossibly endless death of winter breaks open into the bright, beautiful, bursting life of spring.
However, in Ohio, the icy winters release their grip slowly. Even though the calendar announces winter’s end definitively, there are many years that it feels like the calendar has been rather optimistic and, perhaps, premature. I usually do not feel like spring has really come until Easter. That is when I start believing that the winter really could be over.
It is hard to imagine a better time of year for Easter than spring. The glowing, growing, green spectacle of nature provides us with countless easy metaphors for the resurrection of Jesus. We find analogies in seeds and flowers, in bird’s eggs and butterflies. We find little stories of how life appears where we thought only death reigned.
The resurrection of Jesus is like spring in Ohio. Jesus died and then burst living out of His own tomb so that life and blessing could come to humankind. In Jesus, an unstoppable riot of new life began spreading throughout the world. Spring was coming to people who knew only the cold, dark, endless winter of their own hurt, turmoil, mistakes, heartaches, pain, and sin. Suddenly the world bloomed into the hope of life that never dies; life that beats death.
To some, I probably sound like that optimistic calendar. Where is the proof of this new life, this human spring? The world still looks like it is caught in the clutches of a deadly winter. There are earthquakes in Haiti and Japan. There are wars that do not seem to end. The world seems rife with horrors and hate. People die and they do not pop out of their graves again. Where is this spring?
Well, I am like that optimistic calendar. I am announcing something that is true, but something that is not fully realized yet. In Jesus, we saw the first robin of the new life. In Jesus, we saw that there can be hope in this life and the life to come. There are still many who live without that hope and only know winter. The fullness has not yet come. The good news, though, is the hope that the death and resurrection of Jesus gives us. Christians are announcing that Spring has begun. Even though it may not seem so, the sap is rising in the trees and there are crocuses under the snow!