For many of us, the significance of Easter to our faith is not lost. It is this weekend each year we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the new hope for all mankind, for all eternity. For many others, even without entertaining the religious importance, Easter is still a major event filled with egg hunts, Peeps, jelly beans, and rabbits. Whether Easter for you is a religious holiday or a candy holiday the fact remains, twice a year the world stops and celebrates holidays having to do with the life of Christ. Jesus is undoubtedly the most pivotal figure in all of history and his story the most compelling.
I find it interesting how even creation, the natural world around us, seems to welcome and usher in this special holiday. Take for instance the pine tree. Each spring, right before Easter, certain pines will sprout shoots shaped like crucifixes. It is truly an amazing thing to see and the regularity and accuracy of their appearance around the Easter holiday is interesting. Although there is obviously no evidence to suggest pine trees have any knowledge of Easter, some say they are divinely inspired as a reminder to the world of the price Jesus paid on the cross over 2000 years ago. One has to admit the irony, or the divine, in seeing hundreds of small white crosses suddenly appear in the trees in the days leading up to Easter. In similar fashion, the Easter cactus is so named because it blooms at Easter. And who can forget the Easter lily`.
Consider too the mighty white oak tree. Each fall its leaves turn brown, appearing dead. Yet, instead of dropping its leaves, the white oak holds its leaves until this time each year when the new life inside springs forth and pushes the dead away. In scientific terms, this is called marcescence. Many experts believe the dead leaf hangs on so as to in tomb what lies beneath, protecting and shielding it from the elements and outside influence. As the weather begins to warm and the new bud awakens, it springs forward, pushing the old, dead leaves aside so life can begin anew. Do you see any parallels between the white oak and the Easter account? Death, a tomb, and new life.
Psalms 92:12-13, written hundreds of years before Christ, seems to indicate nature’s announcement of the Lord is truly of the divine.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. (NIV)
The spring is an amazing time to be outdoors. All around us we see the earth spring forth new life and a new sense of hope. With new life and new hope as central themes in the Easter story maybe we would all do well by getting outside this weekend. Take a walk and look for the many ways creation speaks to the Divine and it’s to ability to silently, yet in full color, share the greatest story ever told. We will never have clearer view of the Easter story as it unfolds around us through God’s creation in all its jubilance, joy, and rejoicing.