But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name. – John 20:31 (NIV)
Easter for me as a child meant a new outfit, which included a spring-like dress, shiny new shoes and, although I’ve come to abhor hats, a frilly Easter bonnet that would give Diane Simonik a run for her money. Easter was time to put away the heavy, dark winter coat and bring out the lightweight, pastel-colored one. It also meant brightly dyed eggs, jelly beans, chocolate, and homemade bread and Easter cheese, which we called cirak.
One year we spent Easter weekend at our cabin in the mountains near Cook Forest. Easter was early that year—the last weekend in March, if I recall correctly. We’d found a small country church a few miles away, so Mom packed our Easter clothes. I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania, where the weather is much more spring-like even in late March than in the mountains. We awoke that Sunday morning to blowing snow and frigid temperatures. I shivered all through the church service in my fancy dress, white anklets, patent leather Mary Janes and short jacket. I never forgot the Easter it snowed.
Now that I live in the western Pennsylvania mountains that I fell in love with as a child, I know all too well not to put away the winter wardrobe too soon. The daffodils will bow under the snow, and green leaves won’t appear until mid-May. It doesn’t matter whether Easter comes at the end of March or the end of April—we still can get snow.
I grew up associating Easter with spring, and with blooming flowers and greening trees. Now I know a different truth: Sometimes winter doesn’t want to let go.
Focusing on a new Easter outfit or the long-anticipated arrival of spring, however, is focusing on the wrong thing. It’s easy to forget what Easter is really all about, which is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.
Because He conquered death, we, too, can conquer death. “I am the resurrection and the life,” He told Martha before bringing her dead brother Lazarus back to life. “He who believes in Me, though he may die, shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25 NIV)
Easter means much more than a goodie basket and competing with Diane Simonik for the frilliest dress. Easter means much more than warm weather, flowers, and green grass.
It means the winter of the soul has lost its grip.
Because Jesus conquered death, I can experience an internal, eternal spring: “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Message)
Snow on Easter? So what? It’s always spring inside my heart.
Lord, let me see the flowers beneath the snow. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read John 20