I am looking at myself. I must have been 8 or 9 years old sitting on the bank of a creek. My mother, an artist by trade, painted me sitting there looking at the stick I had just tossed into the water. Surrounded by the beauty of trees, rocks, and hills I watch the ripples extend in all directions. Up and down and side to side the ripples move across that stream. My stick moves quietly down the slowly moving stream, bumping, rolling, and bouncing its way perhaps all the way to the ocean!
That was long ago and far away but still my mind goes back. I still love to toss rocks and sticks into the water.
Like that stick changing the face of the water by its presence, so does everything around us change by our presence. A kind word or a harsh one, an act of generosity or of selfishness changes forever our world rippling across time.
Easter Sunday has just come and gone reminding us of God’s power to change us forever. Jesus’ solitary Life, freeing us from captivity to ourselves, was a tidal wave reaching across all of time changing our lives forever. As you and I are caught by its force we are changed. We in turn change others, who then change others continuing the ripple across time.
Easter Sunday is behind us but its wave crashing across our lives stretches to this day and all our days. That one act of obedience in death forever changed the world, time and eternity cascading across time. Our every action, word, or attitude which springs from a life changed forever by His, ripples across the stream wherever we are.
Trees (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
In winter the cold weather, short days, and seemingly endless nights force all signs of life from the trees. Late in autumn the last leaf clings reluctantly to the branch fearing that its last gasp will end in the death of its’ mother tree. Yet little does the leaf know that its’ death is key to the life of many, future leaves awaiting birth in the spring.
It is only in this season of retreat from life, hidden from every mortal eye in the roots deep beneath the soil, that the promise of life renewed resides. There, hidden by the difficult rigors of winter’s cold breath, where light cannot penetrate, rests the promise of abundant life. This cold winter Sabbath of God holds the ever present promise of timely release from death’s cruel grasp. There, in this season of dormancy, the tree begins to give life to new roots. It is the renewal of these roots that allows the tree to draw strength from untapped earthly resources.
To those unschooled in the wisdom of our great Creator, the joyous blossom of the tree in spring is a mystery. But deep beneath the sun’s warming rays there lies the secret of life this new life… death and renewal. This life-giving death is not true death at all, but a temporary condition awaiting the blessed end of that third day. After which we experience the sure and certain promise of an ever-loving God- eternal life!
English: the forests in new hampshire in autumn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I look outside my window I am struck by something. It is autumn. The leaves are falling. And yet- no one seems to be terrified! How can this be? Do we not understand that these leaves produce the very air we breathe? They absorb the deadly CO2 that keeps global warming experts awake at night and converts it into life giving oxygen. And yet- here they are – falling, falling, falling. Colorful and lovely to behold, but nonetheless, dead upon the ground. The ground has become a graveyard of death and decomposition as far as the eye can see. Surely an ominous sign. Can we be far behind?
Yet as I search the cable news networks, the newspaper, and the Internet for any mention of this impending calamity, to my amazement, I find nothing. Nothing but travel reports singing the praises of fall foliage. Recommendations of how and when and where to see the best and the brightest before it all slips away. In fact, it seems that many are willing to travel back roads and byways in order to make the most of the death spectacle all around us. Some will even board planes and fly to places like New Hampshire and Vermont just to witness the destruction. How can this be? What is behind this puzzling attraction to death, dying, decay, and destruction? Especially in a culture known for its singular dedication to youth, beauty, and an obsession with endless life saving measures designed to beat back the Grim Reaper?
It would seem that at some level we all understand the cycle of life and death – at least as it pertains to nature. Everyone knows that death must occur in order to give way to life. Autumn, and the ensuing winter, are essential to the glorious new life of spring and it is the certainty of spring which allows for the beauty of seeing the leaves fall and die. At some level we know that the trees really aren’t dead. They merely have the appearance of death….
As it is in nature, so it is with those of us who are in Christ Jesus. To every single person will come a day of death and destruction of the physical body. This physical death is a necessary act for the renewing of our soul in the next kingdom. It is in the Kingdom of Heaven that we will find glorious spring and rebirth. In the same sense that the trees feel no sense of loss as their leaves are stripped away leaving them bare and exposed, we as Christians should feel no terror at the inevitable loss of our physical bodies, because we know that by faith we have been granted access to glorious, rapturous spring for all eternity. Amen.