Spring is my favorite time of the year. There is something exciting about watching the long, dark nights of winter gradually recede to the increasing daylight of spring. I am always awestruck as I watch new life come forth from the barren ground, and I wait with eager longing for that first blossom of spring.
Spring, for me, is a physical sign of the new life which God gives to all of us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This new life is not something that awaits us off in the distant future, but is a reality present in us today.
Walt Wangerin, in his book, Mourning into Dancing, states that we need to broaden our definition of death beyond that of a physical death at the end of our lives. He argues that every time a relationship is severed—every time we experience loss—that is a death, and he argues that only when we accept this broader definition of death can we truly understand the reality and power of Jesus’ resurrection in our lives.
“If the Gospel seems irrelevant to our daily lives, that is our fault, not the Gospel’s. For if death is not a daily reality, then Christ’s triumph over death is neither daily nor real. Worship and proclamation and even faith itself take on a dream-like, unreal air, and Jesus is reduced to something like a long-term insurance policy, filed and forgotten—whereas he can be our necessary ally, an immediate, continuing friend, the Holy Destroyer of Death and the Devil, my own beautiful Savior.”
If we accept Wangerin’s definition of death and his understanding of Jesus’ triumph over death, then we begin to realize that whenever forgiveness is offered and received; whenever a relationship is mended; whenever a crippled body is healed; whenever a broken spirit is restored to wholeness—Jesus’ power over death has become a present reality in our lives—a reality like spring that happens over and over again. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!