25 Feb The Stirrings of Hope, the Promise of Resurrection
Finally, I see light at the end of the tunnel—and so far, at least, it doesn’t appear to be an oncoming train! Perhaps you have felt it also. A couple of warmer days this week was certainly a boost. Taking a walk without being bundled in coat, hat, and gloves was a delight, as was the warmth of the sun on my face. Daffodil stems are poking up from beneath the cold, snow-covered ground. This morning I went outside to get the newspaper and the birds were, well, not exactly singing sweetly through the trees, as it sounded like I’d inadvertently walked into the bird-version of “shoot-out at the O.K. Corral.” Something obviously had them stirred up, but still, the fact that I heard birds rather than the ping of ice against the kitchen skylight was a big plus.
These signs of spring stir hope within my heart. In my head I know that winter is not over, and we could very well have more bitterly cold temperatures or additional snow and ice in March. But these early signs remind me that winter will eventually give way to spring. Spring will not fail to come any more than the sun fails to rise. Longer, warmer days are ahead, and that sure knowledge makes my heart glad.
What is happening outside our windows is a good image for the season of Lent that will culminate with Resurrection Sunday. For the six weeks of Lent, we enter a spiritual “winter,” embracing the tasks of honest reflection, recognition of our sinfulness, and repentance. However, we embark on these spiritual disciplines knowing that Easter is coming. The habits, the attitudes, the fears and anxieties that hold us back from being fully human and fully alive, do not have to keep us entombed. Instead, God’s Spirit is at work within us giving us the power to leave behind what saps our creativity and energy so that we can grasp a more abundant way of life. Lent, far from being a gloomy and melancholy season, is intended to be a season of preparation—a time to prepare to be set free for joy and celebration.
After a year of the novel coronavirus pandemic, I think I will appreciate Easter as never before. A lot will be missing—the big blast of the trumpet, a joyous choir, pews full of people, being arms-length with parishioners as they receive Communion, children running full-tilt to gather eggs on the front lawn after church. Even so, I feel the stirrings of hope and joy and gratitude.
Between here and there, I will continue to do the hard work of this Lenten winter, of staying disciplined with the Covid-related restrictions that have been placed on us, of waiting patiently for my turn to register for a vaccine, of managing my angst over the inability to make plans and my fatigue over missing worshiping together. I am choosing to focus on those things that are “worthy of praise,” to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness to us and Calvary’s faithfulness to be the church over this past year; for the miracle of these vaccines and for the vast network of scientists, volunteers, technicians, distributors, government officials, drivers, and medical personnel who are getting them to us; for the prayers of the saints that have lifted and connected and held us during these long months of absence.
Friends, don’t lose heart! We have persevered thus far, and the promise of spring and resurrection is right around the corner.
Yours for the Kingdom,