May 2 2011

Resurrection Sunday and Nature

I am guessing that you probably never thought to put Christ’s resurrection together with nature. Frankly, I didn’t either. The resurrection is a core part of a Christian’s beliefs and represents a great gift from our Creator. Our sins are forgiven because Christ died for our sins.

We had a wonderful Easter service on Resurrection Sunday, but during the service a week prior, we sang a song that got me thinking. It was a contemporary praise song based on “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and a lyric said that “Were the whole world of nature mine, that were a present far too small: love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Now that hit me wrong. Yes, Christ dying for our sins was a wonderful thing. But to then say that God’s other big gift, the creation of heaven and earth, is less important is mixing up things that I don’t think should be mixed up. We would not exist, nor would there have been a need for Christ to come, if we had not been part of God’s creation. God’s gift of the world of nature is an amazing gift, and not small by any standard. Anyway, giving God back his own present is a little weird.

Think about what an amazing gift our world is. We cannot live without it. So much of what we know is beautiful comes from it. The gift of forgiveness is so very important, but so is the gift of life, indeed the gift of all life. There is no reason to minimize either gift by comparing them at all.

Many years ago I was at my parents’s church and the pastor there gave a memorable Easter sermon. He talked about how Christ resurrection was like the spring (I know this is a common theme, but this pastor did this very well) — after the tough times of winter (this was back in Minnesota and we knew tough winter!), spring came, just like after the tough times of the Crucifixion, the Resurrection happened. Spring is a time of renewal, and you can see the Resurrection as representing renewal, too. I think connecting God’s gifts of Christ and nature in this way is a good way of giving thanks for both.

The flowers are California poppies shot about a week ago in Central California — an always exuberant expression of spring.

— Rob

Mar 15 2010

Dogwood and Spring

CA-Yosemite-13aSpring is one of my favorite times of year. It is one reason why we moved from Minnesota to Southern California. Spring in Minnesota would really get going about the beginning of May (though there were signs of spring earlier) and be over by June. In California, we have the same sort of spring where plants really get going at the end of January and this continues to about June.

Dogwood is a great part of spring in many parts of the country. This image is of a Western dogwood shot in Yosemite National Park. Spring is going full-bore when the dogwood appear.

Dogwood has some interesting legends about it related to Christ. Dogwood often has four “petals” arranged like a cross. The inside of the flower structure is said to be like a crown of thorns. And some dogwood have small, brown spots toward the center of the petals that remind people of the nail holes of the crucifixion.

One of my favorite sermons was done by a pastor at my parents’ church years ago back in Minnesota. Unfortunately, I do not remember his name. He talked about spring and the crucifixion. He talked about how spring represented a resurgence of life after the “death” of winter (and in Minnesota, that is a pretty powerful image!). He compared this to Christ’s death and resurrection — that Christ died, yet came alive after death so that our lives could be free and full of life. Spring and Easter then represented a wonderful time of rebirth and life after a very difficult time before that.

Sometimes life is not cooperative. Life just “happens” to all of us. We don’t understand everything that is going on, any more than Job did when he complained about his lot to God. Yet, difficult times can be like the winter. We have to trust that spring will come, just like we trust in Christ’s death and resurrection as an expression of God’s love for us. I don’t see winter as a terrible time, but simply a time that has to occur based on how the world is put together, but spring always comes after it. That is an expression of God’s love, too.