On Faith: The miracle of springOne of the delights for me last summer in moving into our new home, complete with perennial and vegetable gardens already well underway in mid-July, was playing “guess this plant” as I wandered around with a plant identification book, checking out what was already growing.
By: From Pastor Susan Berge, Knife River Lutheran Church, Lake County News Chronicle
One of the delights for me last summer in moving into our new home, complete with perennial and vegetable gardens already well underway in mid-July, was playing “guess this plant” as I wandered around with a plant identification book, checking out what was already growing.
After living in a location for so many years that didn’t really allow for much of a garden, I was thrilled by these living things bearing fruit and flowers. I made fresh tomato salsa and apple sauce and dishes with new potatoes and dill and chives, savoring the flavors of home grown produce. I tended the flowers every day, taking pleasure in their colors and delicacy.
Realizing that I missed all that bloomed prior to mid-July, I’ve looked forward to this spring with a special anticipation, wondering what new sights and scents will greet me. I thought I’d at least be waiting until April for these new wonders, but due to our early spring this year, I was surprised to see some green leaves already determinedly pushing their way up through the soil in mid-March, of all things.
The sedum, which provides ground cover in a section of our garden, is already taking a stand for spring, growth, and new life. I felt both joy and alarm when I saw this bright green against the brown of the soil; joy in the way God brings spring out of winter, time and time again, but alarm over how these early plants would fare over time. After all, this is northern Minnesota — we could easily have a run of freezing temperatures or a snow-burying blizzard well into the end of April. How vulnerable those new shoots seem, and what a risk they are taking.
One of our inspiring Easter hymns begins with the verse: “Now the green blade rises, from the buried grain; Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain; love lives again, that with the dead has been; love is come again like wheat arising green.” Every year, the miracle of spring, of new growth in nature, makes a statement to us about resurrection and new life. Every seed that germinates, every shoot that reaches toward the sun, gives witness to a God who answers death with life, and whose final word is always “yes”.
Some winters, unlike this last one, seem to last forever, and we find ourselves doubting that spring will ever arrive. Likewise, there are certainly wintry seasons in our lives when it is difficult to believe that God has the final word over sin and brokenness and death; that healing and new life are not only possibilities, but realities; that Christ is risen. And we might feel that our faith, like those early shoots of green, is fragile and vulnerable and all too prone to face a killing frost.
Yet the fact remains that those early shoots are surprisingly tough; life finds a way, even in difficult circumstances. The tenacity of the rising of those green blades is truly an inspiration. And for about 2,000 years, the resurrection faith of Christians has remained fresh and vibrant: Christ is risen! God finds a way to answer death and brokenness with new life and new hope. Even if at times our individual faith may seem fragile, the witness of the whole Church, and indeed, the whole cosmos, testifies to the resurrection of Christ and to the God who creates, sustains, and renews life, time and again. Eventually, the faith of that whole is renewed within us, too. We discover that the “green blade rises” for us, as well.
Rev. Susan Berge is Pastor at Knife River Lutheran Church. After a recent move, she is learning what it means to become a gardener. She and her husband live in Duluth in the Lakeside neighborhood.