I write this article a bit earlier in the preceding month than usual. I do so because I know just exactly what I need to write. It’s my reality and yours that, if we slow down long enough to listen to our souls, they will tell us the truth: we are in desperate need to get past the winters in our lives and get to the fulfilling, healing beauty of spring.
At the very beginning of the Christian journey are already hints of the promised spring. On that first Christmas night, the angels lit up the darkness of the Bethlehem hillside and proclaimed to the shepherds that Good News, a kind of perfect spiritual spring, has been born to them. No wonder they will leave the manger and go back to their sheep full of joy! No wonder St. John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:3)
Now we approach the triumphant, Easter culmination of the Good News (The Savior born to save has done it!) If we are observing Lent properly, we ought to arrive at Holy Week desperate to hear the Gospel proclaimed again: “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, Alleluia!” The preacher shouts out, “Jesus Christ is risen!” and the congregation joyfully replies, “He is risen indeed!”
Easter is the great spring of faith. It is a promise so beyond comprehension (in our baptisms we are tied to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) that you and I together can’t respond the way we should. The promise that no matter how bad life might be going or how defeated we might feel a day is coming that is simply and perfectly and forever a gift from God: as Christ was raised, so too shall we be raised from the dead.
It is no surprise to me that on his deathbed, Martin Luther confessed “We are all beggars.” He speaks for us all. We are all trapped in our desperations. “We all fall short of the glory of God” reminds St. Paul. That’s not a terrible thing to say. It means that we can let go and say, “It’s God or its nothing.”
My invitation is that you will join me in admitting how desperate we are to hear again the Good News of Easter. The Passion Story really comes to its powerful conclusion during Holy Week:
I am as desperate as anyone for Spring to come!
Pastor Greg Johnson