I’m counting the days until spring. It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in a place where winter felt, well, so oppressive: the snow piled up alongside the streets, then getting deeper because again, last night, it snowed more; another day without seeing the sun; another day with temperatures below the freezing point. In Colorado and Delaware, both, there could be huge dumps of snow; but then came snowmelt, and just a hint of green. In Minnesota …?
And yet: each day does get longer. Beneath the snow, the grass greens. We will soon find ourselves singing, “Now the green blade rises, from the buried grain” (ELW 379). In last Sunday’s adult forum at the church I’ve been attending, we heard an exposition of the hymn, “O Blessed Spring” (ELW 447). Now the hymn, filled with the hope for spring as it is, makes it clear that “winter must come.” This is not good news, not just to the homeless woman who leaves the shelter where she lives to come to the corner outside the church building to ask for a few dollars of generous Lutherans who come by each Sunday morning, but to the father with children who waits on a different street corner, or to the Ukrainian family whose home was shelled last week.
And yet: it’s three weeks now since Lent began: we know that Easter is coming. We know, and not just because on Sunday we celebrate the annual ritual of “setting the clocks back”: we know, not because Easter is coming, but because Easter has come. God’s reign is not governed by the tedium of the news cycle, which seems never to get any better, and is it’s own oppression. God’s reign is governed by God: and the God in whom we believe raised Jesus from the dead: and this challenges every pretension to the contrary, whether from the weather or from the news cycle or anything else we might think of as having a stranglehold on hope and courage, on our work on behalf of truth and justice and the signs of God’s reign.
“Jesus us risen and we shall arise,” Herb Brokering taught us to sing (ELW 377). It might be bleak outside; but winter is not the last word, either for this world or for the world to come.
The Rev. Allen Heggen