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Called to a simpler Trust and a bolder Hope6 months ago
This week Fi Iddon from Trinity Churches Shrewsbury and a University Chaplain shares with us some very personal reflections on how the seasons of winter and spring reflect the long covid-experience of this last year and the reality of resurrection and new life in Jesus Christ. When Aslan “bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again”. Alleluia!
I don’t know about you, but the sight of the first daffodil always gives me more hope than I can possibly describe in words. This year, the first one that I found was nestled next to a gravestone and, deep in lockdown #3, its presence stirred my soul even more than usual.
Living in Lent
The first daffodils usually appear, of course, at around the same time as the start of Lent. Ash Wednesday has, in recent years, become one of my favourite days in the church’s calendar, with it’s ritual and symbolism as we point our faces firmly towards Easter. But this Ash Wednesday I felt full of gloom. It wasn’t just the fact that we weren’t together in church; I think more than anything it was the fact that it feels as if we have been living in Lent for almost a year, now. We’ve been in a period with so much stripped away, and we have, involuntarily, given up so much.
Ash Wednesday reminds us that death is a part of life. Perhaps that’s why the first daffodil flowering between the tombstones struck such a deep chord for me. Those daffodils speak of new life, of transformation…and also of something more. Each year they die, and they come back to life. That new life of Spring is such a powerful, yet completely incomplete, metaphor for the hope that we have in Jesus.
We know that Jesus is led into the Wilderness by the Spirit. There He is tempted and turns to God, and relies on the truth of Scripture. Then he returns to Galilee, full of the Spirit, and enters the Synagogue in Nazareth. Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
What incredible transformation: good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind and release from oppression. After Jesus has spent 40 days in the wilderness without anything, relying completely on God and turning to the Scriptures, he proclaims the transformation that characterises the Kingdom.
When I think about how excited I get to see the transformation of winter into spring, the joy at seeing the first daffodil after the fallow months when the ground recovers and all the action takes place below the soil where we can’t see it, I’m stirred to wonder how God has been using this last year of wilderness in each of us and in our churches? Martin Luther once wrote, ‘God has written the promise of resurrection not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime.’
When we return from our Covid enforced winter wilderness, having learnt so much about what it means to seek and find God in the ordinary, will we be bold enough to expect to see this transformation that Jesus preached about? As we seek to follow the One who turned water into wine, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead and fed 5,000 with a small picnic, how might God be calling us to both a simpler trust and a bolder hope?
A present reality
That daffodil growing among the gravestones speaks of new life, of the truth that Jesus has crushed death and that love has won. And as those who place our trust in the life-giving Jesus know, new life isn’t simply a future hope but also a present reality. So, as we pray, ‘Come Holy Spirit,’ those three simple words which anticipate so much, let’s pray as those who are expectant to see God at work in our lives and in the lives of those individuals and communities for whom we pray, bringing the transforming work of the Kingdom.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
(C S Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)