These thoughts were originally written for a church devotional for Park Street Church in Boston, and comprised the main text of my newsletter to Care of Creation ministry partners last week. They seemed worth preserving here as well.
“I am making everything new!” Rev. 21:5
It is not a coincidence that Easter occurs in the springtime.
Spring is exciting, especially for those of us who live in the frozen north, as we do in Wisconsin. Returning to our house recently, my wife and I pause and glance over our flower beds as we do often at this time of year. This time she gives a little cry of joy: Hidden beneath dead leaves and other leftovers from winter isa spot of green. As we bend to look, we see another and then another: the first signs of resurrection. Frozen in below-zero soil just a few weeks ago, the flowers are coming back to life.
As we look around what is still a pretty dismal landscape, we realize that these tiny dabs of green are not the only sign of hope. We look carefully at the branches of the lilac bush in the corner. Sure enough – it has buds. We realize that the strange sound we hear is birds chirping in bare branches, as if like Aslan they can sing the leaves back onto the trees. The miracle of springtime is unfolding all around us. No matter how cold and endless the winter has seemed, and no matter how weak our faith, spring always comes. It comes with an explosion of new life, with fresh light, with vibrant new colors, with sounds of birds and water and melting snow. It is the sights and sounds of life overwhelming death. The outcome may have seemed in doubt a short time ago, but today the end is clear: Winter’s defeat is inevitable. Spring is going to win.
After a long Wisconsin winter, that fact by itself would be enough for me. But there is more. I remember the words of St. Paul in Colossians 1: “All things were made by Him, and for Him…and in Him all things hold together,” When I look at a new leaf unfolding from a bud, or watch a bird scratching for food I realize that I am seeing God create life once again. The power of Jesus himself is unfurling that leaf, and his joy reverberates in the bird’s happy chirps. I know that as I ponder the mysteries of a leaf’s tiny veins I am studying God’s word – his revelation of himself in Creation – just as surely as if I were reading John 3:16 in the original Greek.
And there’s even more. For as winter seems to assault and defeat the forces of life, God’s creation is under assault in our world today. On every side, from toxins in the water to destruction of God’s great forests to the melting of glaciers that have lasted for thousands of years, it feels as if winter is upon us. It is a winter of sin, selfishness, greed, cruelty – and the snow is deep and the winds are bitter. But there is hope! Winter can’t hold back spring, and the forces of evil that would destroy God’s good creation cannot hold back God’s ultimate purpose of restoration and redemption.
Why? Because God himself is the one doing this. And he is doing it by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, the power that brought us our salvation. Why else would these words be found in the middle of Romans chapter 8, that great passage about redemption? “…the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Things may look grim from time to time – as when one more late spring snowstorm comes barreling out of the plains onto my poor flowerbeds. But when spring comes, it always feels as if it was inevitable. Because it was.
At Care of Creation this is our reason for hope. And we hope you share it with us, and will work with us to prepare for spring. It – and He – is coming!