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The Metaphor of Spring

As the spring weather wrestles its way in, life all over the island begins again. Despite the cold, we head out to enjoy the sunshine (when we can get it). Our mornings arrive with the sounds of birds in the trees. The bright color of fresh cut flowers greets us as we enter the grocery store. Indeed, warm or cold, spring is here!
Easter came early this year - a holiday which usually graces the month of April, and which often coincides with Spring Break, arrived on March 31st. Culturally, Easter is a celebration of spring. Eggs and bunnies remind us of the new life all around us. Flowers, fresh cut grass, "spring fever," newborn baby animals, and many other things remind us of the fresh and youthful side of life, and Easter can be a celebration of these things. In fact, the holiday’s roots go back to pagan fertility festivals, particularly the festival of the goddess Ishtar (from which the holiday derives its name).
In many ancient religions, certain gods and goddesses were "resurrected" on a yearly cycle, coinciding with the spring season. Every winter they would "die," and every spring they would come back to life. In the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross the day prior to the Jewish festival of Passover (which takes place in the spring) and rose from the grave the day after, on the "third day" according to Jewish reckoning. Jesus himself celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples a night early, instituting the simple memorial supper of bread and wine (or juice) which Christians variously refer to as the Lord’s Supper, Communion, the Eucharist, or simply the Table, and which the early church incorporated into a large potluck meal they called "agape," which is Greek for "love." As more and more people from a pagan background joined the church, the timing of the Jewish Passover (which is not a renewal feast, but a commemoration of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt) and the significance of the springtime festivals’ theme of fertility and "new life," made the association of Christ’s resurrection with a springtime festival a natural association. We can celebrate the "new life" of spring as a reminder of the New Life that Jesus has brought us.
Instead of the resurrection of some god or goddess serving as a metaphor for spring, the spring season now serves as a metaphor for the resurrection of the Son of God. The spring season means that winter, a season of darkness and "death," is not the last word. On the other side of death, there is new life. When Jesus rose from the grave, he gave us the promise that death is not the last word. The last word is Life, and Hope, for all who accept the gift of his Love. The spring season ushers in warmth after a season of cold. When Jesus rose from the grave, he gave Life back to a world that had grown cold and dead in sin and selfishness. And he promises to breathe his Warmth into us when we come to him in faith. The spring season means the days are getting longer, and the light is shining brighter. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).
Spring has become a metaphor for Jesus. The real points us to the More Real. No longer do various gods of our invention serve to point us to the rhythms of nature. Instead, the rhythms of nature point us to the once-for-all event of Jesus Christ. Easter has come. A new life has begun.  Let me invite you to explore Jesus for yourself this spring. He invites you to new life today.
Mike Ivaska is Lead Pastor at Vashon Island Community Church, located on Cemetery Rd. across from McMurray Middle School and Chautauqua Elementary. He blogs (somewhat) regularly at Service times at Vashon Island Community Church are every Sunday at 10am, and on the third Sunday of each month at 7pm. All are invited.