April 2016

New Life

When does the season of Spring begin? For those who like things organised and fixed this has been an issue as seasons slowly merge from one to another, with fits and starts. Signs of spring, such as daffodils flowering can abound in February, only to be killed off in March with a cold snap of a week or two.

Those who like to bring order to chaos will put a calendar date on it and this year in the northern hemisphere it was either Sunday March 20th on the astronomical calendar or 1st March on the meteorological calendar. The March 20th date comes from the equinox that is the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth. The March 1st date is simply based on the monthly calendar and allows for easier statistical comparison (ie spring in 2015 was warmer or drier or cloudier than an earlier year).

Either could have been technically right while outside winter reigned with a foot of snow and minus degree temperatures, and we continued wearing heavy coats gloves and scarves. In fact in England it is statistically more likely to have snow at Easter which is often in April, than it is to have snow at Christmas.

Apart from longer (and warmer) days, Spring also reminds us of budding leaves, blossoming flowers and gambolling lambs. (NB I had to look up ‘gambol’, it means run or jump about playfully.)

Spring reminds us of new life.

And that is part of the reason that Easter has many symbols of new life:- Eggs, bunnies, chicks, bonnets with flowers on.

Like many cultural traditions, Easter is a mixture of secular and sacred, ‘pagan’ and Christian. Though Christians believe at the heart of Easter is a story of Jesus death and resurrection, the church was integrated images and motifs from Spring and from earlier religions to help us understand the consequence of the Easter events. Sometimes of course, the images get in the way of our understanding. Eggs may remind of new life; chocolate eggs, less so; giving a box of chocolates has little symbolic meaning.

This side of Easter though, when our children have finished their chocolate eggs and the long weekend is a distant memory; it is quite easy to forget that new and abundant life is the promise of Jesus’ resurrection. We might actually be in Spring, we might acknowledge Easter has happened, but we act as if winter were still all around. The new life that is supposedly celebrated at Easter with all the symbols feels as sad as a forgotten chocolate Easter egg that has been left in the sun on a window sill.

Friends, life may not be full of surprises like an Easter egg hunt, but it is full of promise. Jesus says ‘I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’


April 2016