Easter: A time of rebirth and the return of spring
Every year, the miracle — the buds, the flowers, the wild eruption of color. There’s life in the capricious breezes, in the persistent sun, in the blaze of Earth renewed.
There is rebirth. In spring, on Easter, what had seemed lost is alive again. For those who believe, today is the consummate affirmation of faith.
“Easter is a day we celebrate the great love of God,” said the Rev. Karen Hurst, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church. “We gather to remember and experience the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.”
For Christians worldwide, Easter marks the day they believe Jesus Christ rose from death after being crucified and entombed for three days. It is, said the Rev. Dennis West of Life Tabernacle, a literal celebration of rebirth: Christ’s and, subsequently, humankind’s, he said.
“It offers us hope beyond this life,” Hurst said.
“What we celebrate on Easter morning is that the tomb is empty,” said the Rev. Rob Storey, senior pastor of River of Life Alliance Church. “It’s no longer sealed, and that is the hope of everyone who calls Jesus savior, that he is not in the tomb any longer and that he is alive, and through him we are alive.”
In his essay “Nominalist and Realist,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It is the secret of the world that all things subsist, and do not die, but only retire a little from sight, and afterwards return again ... All persons, all things which we have known, are here present, and many more than we see; the world is full.
“Nothing is dead: men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals and mournful obituaries, and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some new and strange disguise. Jesus is not dead: he is very well alive: nor John, nor Paul, nor Mahomet, nor Aristotle; at times we believe we have seen them all, and could easily tell the names under which they go.”
Beyond being a day to consider transcendence of moral death, though, Easter is a time ponder the rebirth that happens through grace and faith, West said. He cited the Book of John, Chapter 3, in the New Testament, which recounts the story of a powerful man named Nicodemus who visited Jesus to ask about his teachings: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
“Nicode’mus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
“Rebirth is anybody who meets Jesus, anybody who understands that and meets the risen savior, their life is changed,” Storey said, adding that through God’s grace, those who turn their hearts to Christ can be born again and saved from the sins and weakness of mortality.
That Easter is celebrated in spring adds to its symbolic significance, Hurst said: Earth is renewed, life is evident again, winter’s hope for a brighter, warmer day is realized.
“As far as new birth, we can look at it in relationship to Christ, to growing closer in our relationship to God and to Jesus Christ,” she said. “But it also represents a change within us, what might be called conversion. I look at it as something that doesn’t happen just once in your life, but happens over and over again, every day. We gain new insights, or we should be striving to gain new insights into our spiritual life, our life of Christ with God. So, we look to new birth as meaning that daily change in our own lives.”
She said that daily renewal is a constant reminder of hope beyond death, of the continuation of life.
On the tombstone for his wife, Helen Joy Davidman Lewis, author C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
And field, and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes was left behind
In ashes, yet with hope that she,
Re-born from holy poverty,
In lenten lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day.”
So, today, the sun shines and life abides and hope rises.