Easter has finally come and gone: the second Easter since COVID arrived.
Last year the viral threat was new and strange. We didn’t know much. Lockdowns were only a couple of weeks old. My daughter’s kindergarten class had become a YouTube channel and Sunday worship at our church had become something like a vlog.
This second Easter felt different. The nation has entered a new political stage. Vaccines are now available, and many are being inoculated. King County is in Phase III, and businesses and classrooms are opening up.
We got to celebrate Easter in person as a church this year — albeit outside, masked-and-distanced, and a bit chilled by the wind. The days are getting longer, and at times we can even see the sun. Spring has arrived in our slice of the world.
Spring, of course, is a season of transition. It’s a tug-of-war between winter and summer. Some days, winter looks like it’s winning. On others, it feels like summer’s almost here. When the sun is out, the wind can be cold. And two days of sunshine are often followed by two days of gray. We’re in a time-between-times, not entirely in one place or the other. An apt metaphor for our lives.
Within the Christian faith, we use spring to celebrate resurrection and winter to celebrate the shining of God’s light in our darkness. These traditions have ancient roots, of course, and many cultures celebrate, and have celebrated, similar realities at similar times. The debate goes on, somewhat boringly (in my opinion), about which came first and who is stealing from who. Are Christmas and Easter pagan holidays that have been Jesus-ified? Or are they ancient practices of the church whose timing stems from other sources? It doesn’t really matter, if you ask me, and everyone is entitled to their opinion (even if they, or I, are eventually proven wrong).
What’s interesting to me is that, in the Christian faith at least, instead of resurrection being a metaphor for spring, spring is a metaphor for resurrection. Rising to new life, spiritually and eternally, is the substance. The blossoming of flowers is the sign. And the thing about resurrection is it’s a beginning, not an end. Though the Bible ends with a vision of multitudes walking off into the sunrise of a new creation, the picture is clearly supposed to communicate that something new is coming the rest of which we can only dream. Such is the nature of resurrection. It’s a wonder that points us to a mystery, and to a greater and brighter beyond.
As light begins to dawn on our journey with COVID, and with politics, and with everything else we’ve gone through and are going through — and as wise voices remind us “this all isn’t over yet”—let’s remember that we’ve just entered spring. We’ve entered the great metaphor that points us to resurrection. Perhaps winter isn’t completely over, but something other than winter has also begun.
The journey’s been long, and it’s not over yet, but new things are on the horizon. Now is our time to hold onto hope and keep pressing on.
Mike Ivaska is the pastor of Vashon Island Community Church, which is affiliated with the Assembly of God denomination.