Spring took its time reaching the upper midwest. March was “in like a lion,” but out like a bear. Even so the signs of life, the longer daylight, the warmth, the flowers, are reminding us of beauty and of joy in simple pleasures.
Many religions have long understood spring as a metaphor. Some have seen it as a metaphor of cycles, circular time, and sameness — for philosophies of reincarnation. The Christian faith has seen in spring a sign and metaphor for resurrection, for new life coming from the dead. The analogy should not be stretched too far. Trees that bud are not resurrected, they are coming out of dormancy — we see that in the animal kingdom too, among some mammals that hibernate for a period of time during winter.
Each cycle of the seasons move time forward. Trees get bigger and taller. Animals, including human beings, advance through stages of maturity. And then, eventually, life dies. The tree does not bud in spring, but becomes a dry trunk.
The amazing good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be simply deduced from the cycle of seasons and the life-cycles of trees and animals. It must first be declared and lived and spoken by God as an act of self-revelation, in a way that we can understand. This good news is that Jesus was dead, all the way dead. He was not hibernating, he was not in a deep coma, he was dead. Then God raised him back to life in a body that will never die again. That is good news for you and me because of what God promises in the words spoken through Jesus Christ, that by faith in him we also can share in his eternal life, we also can rise from the dead in new bodies that will never die.
The hints of spring cannot replace God’s special, spoken and revealed Word. This Word lived in the flesh of Jesus Christ, is preserved in the Old and New Testaments, and is experienced directly through the presence of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in and renewing the minds of believers. His Spirit dwelling in us is our deposit on eternal life, the guarantee of the promise. Be thankful for the seasons and for what spring means to the cycle of life, but be ever more thankful for what God has done to make that which is dead and that which will die, to live again forever.