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Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2012

Faith Forum: What does spring symbolize in a religious context?

March 25, 2012

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The Rev. Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:

While many religions celebrate the coming of spring, what they are really celebrating is nature.

But the celebration of nature falls short when we experience the season of Easter on a personal level. Easter is celebrated during nature’s season of spring and like the season of spring, Easter is about new life.

Just as winter symbolizes death, spring symbolizes new life. Trees, plants, fields are beginning to turn green; across Kansas new life is emerging from the ground. The Christian faith is about new life all year round, but especially so during Easter — something died but now lives again. In Christianity it’s not something but Someone.

The New Testament says in 2 Corinthians 5:5:17: “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” NIV.

Our new life, our new creation, springs from Jesus Christ. Just as plant life re-emerges from the earth during spring and can’t be held back, the earth could not hold Christ, He emerged and because Christ came up from the ground, our new life comes from knowing Him, belonging to Him, worshipping Him, not nature or nature’s things.

Easter isn’t about candy or painted eggs or cute little bunny rabbits. Easter is about celebrating the miracle of new life that is possible because Jesus Christ rose up from the grave and He gives new life to every person who responds to Him. Jesus once said, John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” NIV. This spring celebrate Jesus Christ in Easter, because He is risen, not dead. Nature will die again and again, but new life, eternal and abundant, springs from Jesus Christ; celebrate Him.

— Send email to Gary O’Flannagan at gary2_1962@yahoo.com

The Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:

This morning, as I was walking my dog in the crisp air of a fresh dawn, I saw children waiting for their school bus dressed in shorts and shirt sleeves and their parents heading for work similarly attired: spring has arrived. And with spring comes a welcomed sense of renewal.

Spring represents an awakening. Its many images and symbols speak of our rejuvenation, our coming out of winter’s hibernation with energy and enthusiasm for what comes next. The song of the birds in the park, the grass already in need of mowing, and the first shoots of color bursting forth from the dormant winter soil in our gardens. One of the images of spring that stays with me every year comes as we await the first pitch of opening day: everyone with a fresh record, every team an equal, and no errors to blemish the season’s outcome.

Life, with all its challenges, is seldom easy. In the face of those discouragements and difficulties, we need those things that lift up our spirits: families and friends, the greening of our neighborhoods, the quest for the Final Four (an allusion perhaps more territorial), and the burst of new life that comes each spring.

Among the many strengths and attractions of every religious tradition is the language and invitation of hope, growth and new beginnings. This is true in the Christian tradition, which has as its central motif the Christ coming to life again from the grave. Even the name Easter is drawn from a spring festival that pre-dates the Church called, “eastre.”

As the writer Virgil Kraft once put it, “Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” Or as my wife said as I was leaving for work, “I’ve got to get out to my garden.”

— Send email to Kent Winters-Hazelton at fpcpastor@sunflower.com.

Comments

ShePrecedes 2 years ago

I think of the Sun. Not Son, But SUN. Days equal in length. Equinox. I think Fertility and New Beginnings. I think of the earth. I think of the cosmos.

And I lose track of when Easter is.. When is it? Don't really think it is based on fact, bur rather based on fiction. Don't think Jesus died on the cross. And what a terrible totem to follow, a man nailed on a cross! Give me the Ankh, rather than that horrible icon of fictional torture.

If this culture practiced Beltane (first of May), do you think there would be so many divorces today? One night a year to run wild and free, and to legitimately pursue those hormonal fluxations that are so incredibly repressed in the Christian society. Of co0urse, we all know that what is repressed in the psyche with come back up, emotionally charged, with a vengeance and probably with some perversity.

I am with a few Gnostic sects on this one. Give in to lust and sexual drives, doing it in a legitimate and legal manner, with no harm to others. In the end, those lusts lose their importance and emotional charge to become fond memories with lots of learning because of them. I humbly think the gods don't want so much living morality. I think the gods want you to experience and live fully. I think the gods want us to learn as much as we can. I think that is what Jesus taught to us, tho we may not currently get those particulate teachings anymore outside of Gnostic texts and other ancient, unaltered (!!) manuscripts. (The Bible is not unaltered).

The best morality is to do no harm to anyone and to not judge them. To love. To always and fully love. To love thy neighbor as thyself. I do this. I do love my neighbors. I know their faults, accept those faults and I love them anyway.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge from widely varied experiences. Most certainly knowledge that comes from within oneself, from frequent and instructional silence, from the deep and/or daily communion with The Source.

I love spring. Sping is a seasonal representation of love, and what can be sowed from love. It is tome to romp.

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FloridaSunshine 2 years ago

Autumn has always been my favorite season for many reasons...it's a relaxing time of watching the colors change in their gorgeous capacities...walking through fallen leaves and hearing the crunch of each step. The first and true love of my life happened in autumn...that experience I hold close to my heart for all time.

But, OH! The joy of spring!! Where I am right now, the daffodils are a "wake up" color of yellow that brightens each morning and competes with the forsythia's astonishing yellow beauty...they call me out to bring in fresh huge bouquets for the breakfast table and my bedside table and even for the counter near the bathroom sink! The longest of the forsythia branches are for the tall pottery floor vase I found in North Carolina...perfect for that corner in the living room. The beauty is almost too much to bear...it takes my breath away...both inside my cozy abode and outside where there are no boundaries! The Bartlett pear trees are just losing their white, snowy blossoms...at a glance, it looks just like snow on the bright green grass. The Japanese cherry trees are so laden with blossoms I have no idea how they all found room on the branches! Breath-taking sight, these pink puffs of beauty! The woods are starting to "green"...I adore the awakening of the woods...I am beckoned to emerge...in fact, the call is insistent each morning that I emerge and witness the yearly renewal. I walk out to the gazebo, my cup of steaming tea warming my hands, my journal and pen tucked under one arm...and the sight of the pansies in all their glorious colors fills me with awe. The squirrels are having a great time playing tag with each other as they scamper about. Ahhh...there's a male cardinal...beautiful.

I sit in the cover of the gazebo near the edge of the woods and look at the beauty surrounding me...and I am still. I am meditating on what I am reminded of each year during this beautiful season. The fact that my Lord loved me so much, He died for me...but as with the miracle of springtime, with His resurrection and ascension, He made me brand new...He made my heart His home because I asked Him to do so...many years ago. And, so, all things are new...the old has passed away...and it is spring again not only in my beloved woods, but also in my heart. As I am sitting still, I thank You, Jesus, for loving me so very much. What may I do for You this lovely day...and, indeed, every day of my life...to make You glad that I belong to You?

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