BY REV. JEREMIAH JORDING - SPIRIT LAKE IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH
I am not from northwest Iowa. I am new. I do not like winter. Where I am from, the snow is a temporary hindrance that melts as soon as it falls. So, living in this land of Okoboji has been an adjustment for me.
"This is not a typical winter," people tell me, but I am not sure if I believe them. I do not know any better! Joking aside, the rising temperatures and melting snow have been great signs to me that spring is coming. There is hope. Life will return to these giant ice-cubes called lakes. People will party, maybe harder than they should, and bikes will be ridden around our houses and lakes. Flowers will bloom, and the winter will practically be forgotten. The way people live their life will be radically different in a few months than the way it was a few months ago — all because a renewed relationship with the outdoors will change the paradigm.
There is something truly emotional about witnessing the spring unfold. There is a psychological condition tied to long winters called "seasonal affective disorder." Those who suffer its symptoms go through a deep depression in the winter months. One of the causes is purely biological: the lack of vitamin D from the sun can negatively affect mood. As for other reasons, I hypothesize, as one who has experienced these winter doldrums, that seeing the life sucked out of the natural world and a change to a more sedentary existence causes one to be forlorn, to lose hope in the moment or the day.
In turn, then, seeing life come back to the natural world in springtime revives the spirit. It reinvigorates the body. Watching life get back into motion reminds people how good it is to be alive, to have hope in the moment and in the day.
What is God communicating through this annual resurrection? What do we learn about his nature, his character? Perhaps we can witness that God is the God of life, of renewal, and of resurrection. Through our annual rhythms, he demonstrates what it looks like for life to come out of death. For that reason we can see that even nature bears witness to the reality of Christ and his resurrection.
Witnessing nature will not reveal everything, however. In fact, it is only through the lens of Christ that the resurrection motif present in nature can fully be appreciated. The new life present in the spring only prefigures the eternal spring brought about through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. This Easter, in Christian churches surrounding our lakes, there will be people celebrating new life. The life of Christ demonstrates that there is life after death; the natural winter present at the end of our days will fade into an eternal spring, the resurrection on the last day and the life of the world to come.
Participate in this celebration of the eternal spring with a community this Easter. Find a group of individuals that, although broken and sinful, will welcome you to witness the end of death's reign. Perhaps, just as life is lived differently in the spring and summer than in the winter, seeing Christ will cause you to live differently as well, to turn away from isolation and pain to embrace living outwardly for others just as Christ poured himself out for you.
I do not know what expect next winter. I will not let it concern me as I look forward to the rich gifts of the spring. When the next winter does come, I will strive to hold onto the hope of the spring.