Alleluia, Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!
It’s Easter. It’s actually always Easter on Sundays at church. Every Sunday we celebrate the news of the empty tomb, but of course, the pinnacle Easter Sunday we celebrate each spring is the big to-do. At Eden in Munising, we had beautiful processions led gracefully and reverently by some of our younger siblings in Christ. There were waves of Easter lilies perfuming the air as if Mary had just been in our worship space anointing Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair. The chairs were filled more than usual and one could feel that communal strength as we lifted our voices together in song and prayer, and even laughter at times.
It’s a big Sunday and for us northern communities of Jesus followers, Easter Sunday is one of the big signs of spring. This year that fact was punctuated well when I arrived to open the church and looked out the window to see a Coast Guard ice cutter breaking up one of winter’s last holds on this community. “Christ is risen indeed,” I thought to myself as I watched it smash through the ice-locked bay.
It’s also been the little signs of spring that have really captured my heart and started my own spring awakening this year. Since seeing the ice cutter on Easter morning, the bay has been changing its look every day, sometimes multiple times in a day. And it has been beautiful. For a couple days after a long south wind blew through, all the ice was pushed out and we had open waters. In an instant, there were some local kayakers out and a motorboat speed by.
A couple of days later, the wind shifted and blew the ice back in, so now it looks a lot like an ice berg lagoon with ducks diving and swimming between all the ice chucks. This morning as I write this, the skies are clear and all that ice is creating a lot of fog, so we have that combination you can only have at this time of the year — the beautiful bright sunshine and the fog it’s creating and trying to burn off all at the same time.
Although I’m battling the rabbits over them, I’ve been excited to see all the bulbs I planted last year coming up from that recently frozen ground. I sure hope I get to see some of them flower. In the meantime the well-established daffodils have come up through a thick layer of leaf matter in a sun-catching corner outside our house to remind me that these flowers God created to rival the beauty of King Solomon’s robes are persistent and dependable.
Every time I step outside and breathe in the smell of the earth and decomposing green of last year, I hear the voice of my journalism professor (Happy Easter, Doc!) reciting e.e. cummings:
“in Just-spring when the world is mudluscious …”
And, of course, all of it makes me antsy to start biking again. I have actually written an entire essay about my many biking memories. But the one that has come to mind today is when I first learned to ride with no training wheels.
I was probably about 6 or 7 years old. Our house was at the top of the hill on a gravel road. I had a new bike. It was pink and white, with a banana seat. I loved it. I could tell it was going to change things forever. One weekend, my dad decided I was going to learn to ride it without training wheels. I was pretty nervous, but I think I was also okay with the idea — riding on gravel with training wheels created a lot of limitations. To teach me, my dad put me on the bike, sans training wheels, at the top of the gravel hill and gave me a push. I was pretty scared. I could vividly imagine myself wiping out and feel the gravel digging into my knees. But by the time I reached the bottom of the hill, I was riding. I never looked back.
It’s a tiny sign of spring and newness that contains the essence of exactly what has happened for the world in that empty tomb. In Jesus’ death and resurrection we are freed from all our fear and limitations, to live and love abundantly, confident that the Savior has risen. It’s a truth as persistence and dependable as those brave daffodils pushing through what died away last year. Never look back.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ann Gonyea is pastor of Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church in Munising, MI, and an ordained pastor of the ELCA.