The Flowers of Spring
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
Have you seen them… sprouting up in lawns and flowerbeds… little splashes of color… precious signs of hope that spring is coming? I love the purple crocuses and white snowdrops that have appeared lately. The snow delayed their arrival, but the cold could not hold them back any longer! It was cold yesterday as we took our Sunday afternoon walk … the wind driving the chill a bit deeper. But those beautiful flowers boldly announced hope that warmth and sunshine and spring’s explosion of color is just around the corner.
Years ago, I planted crocus bulbs in my front flowerbed. Five-year-old Daniel helped with the planting while his little sister Grace slept in the stroller. We had dreams of the beautiful crocuses that would sprout in the spring… the burst of color they would bring after a grey winter. But that fall, as we sat on our porch reading books together, Daniel and I watched as the squirrels dug up the crocus bulbs and ate them. We yelled at the squirrels, but that just made them more determined to dig up all our little treasures, dashing our hope of a colorful spring. It was no surprise when spring arrived, there were no crocuses… no burst of color… no magical announcement that spring had sprung. We could have taken this as a defeat, but instead we went to Produce Junction and bought pansies to plant instead. For years, we made our pilgrimage to buy pansies, determined that no squirrel would have the final say. Every year, those pansies sang the first notes of spring’s chorus of hope.
If you come to Lenape Valley Church this spring, you will find crocuses and pansies singing spring’s chorus of hope together. Yet, while these flowers ‘sing’ well together, there are some important differences between them. Pansies must be planted fresh every year, and when the heat of the summer comes, they will wilt away. While crocuses are resilient and determined to come up year after year. When their flowers fade in the sun, we know that they will come back next year. In fact, if the squirrels don’t eat them, they will actually multiply and spread, surprising us each year with new splashes of color. In our COVID reality, pansies are like the news of vaccines and businesses re-opening and patterns of life returning. We celebrate the hope that comes from that good news! But, as with all good news these days, we will quickly move on to the next step, leaving this moment behind.
Crocuses, on the other hand, are like Christian hope- resilient, determined, renewing. Crocuses remind me of the ministry that Rev. Dan Reid has had with Lenape Valley Church. Fifty years ago, Dan answered the call to come east to pastor a young, growing church in New Britain, PA. He moved his wife and young family to Chalfont and began to love our faith community with God’s Word. Now, half a century later, he is still preaching God’s Word, inspiring hope in our community- a beautiful crocus in our midst. This Easter, we will once again declare the good news of a Savior who has conquered death to a world that has spent this last year defined by death. The hope we have as Christians is enduring, resilient and bold. We know a hope that springs eternal even in the midst of a pandemic.
On Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer joined the chorus of hope with their front- page headline:
The Return of Hope: After a Year of Grief and Loss, Philadelphians are Starting to Remember What Optimism Feels Like
After a year of shutdowns and isolation, economic struggles and political battles, fear and loss, we are ready for the spring… ready for the renewal of life… ready for hope of a new day! There are wise voices that remind us not to move too quickly into that new day- that social distance and masks are still important to the health and safety of our community. But even as we protect ourselves and our neighbors with those simple acts, we yearn for what is next. Hope is contagious, inspiring, drawing us like a magnet into that new day. Yet, the optimism of today can easily be like a pansy- beautiful today and wilted tomorrow while our Christian hope is so much more than a re-opening economy and a receding pandemic. Our hope is like those beautiful crocuses. The hope we know and proclaim, in fresh and enduring ways, is the life-giving grace found in Jesus Christ. May we sing that chorus so that our neighbors hear the invitation to hope eternal!
With you in His hope,