Sermon: Thoughts on Spring


Sometimes I have the privilege and joy to do a small sermon at the Anthony Wilding Retirement Village. Last month I was invited to come and do that again and I shared some thoughts on the Spring Season.

Anthony Wilding Retirement Village 16 September 2015.

This morning I would like to talk about Spring. I know; we are already in our third week but, hey Spring did not exactly come in time this year. Or let me rephrase that: Spring did not come in the expected way at the expected time. To me Spring is a miracle, not just because it is so beautiful, but first and foremost because it is so glorious!  Scientists may be able to explain that Spring has to do with the angle of the earth axis and how it influences the angle with which the sunbeams hit the Earth, and as a result produce enough light and warmth for nature to respond to it. While that may explain what is happening in scientific terms it does not explain to me why Spring is so glorious. That to me is the true beauty of Spring and in that sense Spring is like a miracle. Spring brings forth the promise of a resurrected nature, an explosion of new life that in my view can only have been created by an awesome God, a master painter, architect, gardener, sculptor, poet and musician that brings forth an overwhelmingly beautiful creation.

I did not notice the gradual movement of the earth, the lengthening of days, the small rises in temperatures (although I did notice that having a coffee in the sun in the morning became an option again). What I did notice though was that all of a sudden the lawn needed mowing again, the splash of young green in some of the trees and the appearance of  tiny colored buds and blossoms seemingly there from out of nowhere. Nature picks up more sensitively than me where is comes to responding to the wake-up call as I seem to be missing a lot. And nature, in a non-staged, uninhibited way displays something that catches my eye, waking me up for what I seem to have been missing, the new life, the sounds and fragrances.

 

Spring is a miracle that displays the beauty of God.

084 (1 of 1)Compared to the other seasons Spring has a unique beauty in terms of delicacy and display. It has this sparkle of new life unknown to the other seasons that makes you fall in love with everything. In a way it is comparable to when my children were born: in objective terms a just born baby may not be the most beautiful but when it is your baby you cannot help but falling in love with it, on first sight. There is something special that I cannot explain other than it being a miracle.

Such a beauty that it can come from God only.  God being the artist, the master musician the creator of glorious beauty and a symphony of sounds and fresh fragrances promising new life and a harvest, to be seen and heard and smelled  in Spring. Spring is simply beautiful.

Remembering art history there was a painting by an Italian master Botticelli. It is probably not for nothing that Botticelli when he wanted to symbolise Spring, made use of a beautiful girl with blossoms around her neck and in her hair. Beauty and promise in one symbolic work of art.  

Spring is a miracle of power.

The earth sort of dies every winter (and in all honesty it very often seems me with it). It is lying stiff and cold, motionless, silent and with no other than the rotting smell of death as remnants of fallen leaves rot away. I seem to be more and more responding to this season of death, the wet, the cold and most of all the lack of light. Is that not symbolic in itself? When there is not enough light death is following.

We as humans are able to manipulate great forces and powers to do many incredible things. We can fly things into outer space, we are able to manipulate harvests or vegetables and weeds, we are able to heal diseases and at the same time we are able to wipe out our planet. But we are not able to make Spring happen in winter. Only God can bring what is dead back to life.

When Lazarus was in His tomb, he did not respond to the weeping of Martha or to Mary’s appeal. It took the voice of Christ to tell him to to come forth to make Him rise again!

Every Spring we are reminded of the voice of the Almighty that makes dead things rise up again in their full glory. In a way, Spring is the Angel of the Resurrection.

 

Spring is a revelation of God’s love.

Spring is a beautiful reminder of God’s endless generosity.

“for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5: 45”

These phenomena of the natural world are in my view very symbolic for the breath of God’s eternal grace. Spring more than any other season reminds us all that God is not a respecter of persons and that He has a generous heart.

He pours out Spring over all of us.

You can drive through the red zones and parts of town that are still unrecovered and you will find Spring there in equal glory to the neatly trimmed and maintained gardens of Hagley Park or Merivale front yards.  Spring and the miracle of resurrection it symbolizes visits the rich and the poor, the successful and the unsuccessful, the saint and the lost alike. No one is so poor, humble or fallen of the track that he or she cannot enjoy the colours, sounds and fragrances of Spring. May this also be a reminder for us in our daily lives. No one is too lost to not get a dose of God’s love and resurrection power in his or her life, and in Christ we can all make this a reality for everyone around us that will ultimately leave this world a better place. A better place one step at a time.  

 

Spring paints a picture of God’s unchanging love.

Some of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpieces like the Last Supper or the Mona Lisa are a wreck and in decay. So is Titian’s Assumption or Correggio’s Holy Night or closer to my Dutch home the Night Watch by Rembrandt as well as the Botticelli painting mentioned before.  Colors are fading or changing to darker complections. Some of the cloudy skies of the Dutch masters are becoming more and more yellowish in their complections.

Yet, the colours, sounds and fragrances of God’s masterpiece do not fade, they are as fresh and beautiful this year as they have been throughout eternity! From everlasting to everlasting, God is God, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

 

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Spring is prophecy of harvest.

Spring is full of promise, nature prophesies a harvest of fruit! Again I say rejoice as this prophecy is God’s symbolic multi-dimensional artwork that reminds us that all of our spiritual powers resulting from life in Christ are going to lead to fruit and more fruit, we will go from glory to glory.
Yet I believe that ultimately our Summer Glory will be reached elsewhere, in Heaven.

 

They have risen.

In Matthew 28:6, we read:

“He is not here for He has risen”

I noticed the last time I was here that there was a substantial difference in size and make up of attendees, only to find out that some people had died. 

Theocritus, a Greek poet from around 3 BC wrote that “hopes are for the living, the dead are hopeless”.

It is good to remind us that that is not the Christian hope. Our hope rests on the resurrection. We believe that Jesus died and rose again (1 Corinthians 15: 3-11). Paul’s reassurance is that death is not the end of the story and that all who are in Christ will live forever. But it gets better: my body will not just be resurrected but in the process thereof I will be transformed.

Our bodies may wither but our spirits live forever!

I love spring, the lambs, the birds, the new fresh flowers. But ultimately they will wither just like us. But what is perishable cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. So, we as believers must be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Just like Jesus was transformed with a new body so as to deal with the reality of eternal life so will we be transformed (1 Corinthians 15). And once transformed it will be for eternity. So, looking at those who may have left us here on earth: they went to an eternal summer season! We can carefully remind ourselves of the words found in Matthew 28:6.

“He is not there. For He has risen”.

They are not there anymore for they have risen. And with that we are reminded that death has been conquered for those who are in Christ. Is not God amazing!

Love you all and until a next time.

Quote of the Day: Graham Truscott


You Shall Receive Power

Today I started reading Graham Truscott’s  “You Shall Receive Power” (http://www.truscottmissions.com/GrahamBooks.htm) and I’d like to share the following quote from the book the title of which is derived of course from Acts 1:8:

“We simply have not had the the Power to obey our Lord’s command “to preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 which is understood be me as all creation a in the NIV translation.) Because of our lack of vital contact with the Source of all Power, we have failed to make an impact in our cities and villages that the early church did.

But the hunger is yet more than this. We are tired of sub-standard Christian living. Our lives do not burn with the Purity of the Fire from Heaven that first ignited the Church. We read in the Bible, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Romans 6:14) and it sounds like a dream. We read: “Now thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14) and it reads like a translator’s error.

God speaks to out hearts, “You shall receive Power, after that Holy Ghost is come upon you” and for a brief moment our hearts thrill with expectancy. Then out senses tell us remind us that we have been taught, “But that is not for today”, or “You have received everything at conversion. Just struggle on as best as you can, and when you die, God’s Power will take you to Heaven.” How we have been robbed from out spiritual inheritance in Christ.

Further comments

In Isaiah 5:13 we read:

13 Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding;
their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.

This is not about scholastic abilities, if that were true the world would have been evangelized and the churches perfected in the past 20 centuries. Isaiah’s burden is for a knowledge of the truths of the Word of God. Where the earliest disciples went the power of the Holy Spirit was doing great work with and through them, so that men and women may believe in Christ and experience his transformative salvation. And wherever they went signs accompanied their presence (see Acts). From Hebrews 13:18 we learn that Chris is the same today, yesterday and forever, and therefore we can still be filled with the Holy Spirit, just as he id in the Acts of the Apostles.

I want to see these things happening again, don’t you?