Friday, April 1, 2016

Easter: the Fulfilment of Christmas

Happy Easter, everyone!

For Easter it is, and shall be for quite some time. The Octave of Easter lasts all week; and even after the octave is over, the Easter Season shall continue! The church is full of flowers, their cheerful colors and gentle fragrance lifting our minds to what is pure and holy; our hearts are full of joy, as we celebrate the truth that He is risen!

Isn't it fitting that Easter comes in the midst of spring? (Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, I suppose. Do forgive me for being so blindly poetic.) When all the world is bursting into blossom? For Easter is the springtime of hope, the dawn of a spiritual summer. It is the day when the winter of death is conquered once and for all. The grave no longer holds power; its frigid grasp cannot terrify the disciples of the never-ending Light and Warmth. Though the storms of life and death may rage around us, we know that at last the sunlight must break through the clouds and the springtime must succeed the winter.

The fittingness that Easter should come in the springtime is mirrored and completed by another seasonal perfection: the fact that Christmas comes in the wintertime. Isn't it lovely, the symbolism of Christ coming into the world in the winter? The idea that our Great and Eternal God first felt the air of this earth when that air was most biting and inhospitable? The old Christmas hymn "In The Bleak Midwinter" might well say it best -

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan; earth lay hard as iron, water like a stone. Snow had fallen snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor the earth sustain; Heaven and earth shall pass away when He comes to reign. In the bleak midwinter, a stable place sufficed the Lord God Incarnate, Jesus Christ.

By coming in the wintertime, Jesus showed his undying love for us. So on fire with love for the world was this God that He chose to come down to it when it was most in need of Him.

The winter surrounding Bethlehem is the winter of our sin. The frosty wind is the emptiness which lays barren the human soul; the iron hardness of the earth is the iron hardness of our hearts. We were buried deep in the snow of our sin, the cold and loveless blanket of death.

And then, He came. The light touched the darkness, the warmth felt the cold.

For ages we had been longing for this, struggling through the darkness and cold; and then, on that first Christmas -

A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Suddenly winter is not so horrible. There is hope amidst the snow; something is alive and warm within the ice - Something, or Someone, Who will glow with a warmer and warmer light until the earth is thawed and melted in His love. Fr. Francis Finn touches on the transformation of winter in his novel Percy Wynn, when the character John Donnel says:

"...I really believe that winter, with all its bleakness and sterility, has come to be loved by thousands, not least by us boys, because around with it comes Christmas with all the love and joy and good feeling of that sacred and happy time."

It's remarkably fitting that Christmas is celebrated in the winter! And it is just as fitting, and perhaps moreso, that Easter is celebrated in the spring.

For Easter is the completion of Christmas. Without Easter, Christmas would have no meaning.

In Easter, death is defeated for once and for all. The winter of sin holds no horror. The devil, who thrives on intellectual darkness and spiritual coldness, is put to flight. The age of ignorance and sin begins to give way to a new era in history, the era of faith.

All the virtues burst into bloom at Easter, like flowers opening to the sun. Faith is rewarded, love is glorified, hope is born. Strength and peace and joy flow from the knowledge of our Savior's resurrection, and a spiritual springtime begins.

The turning of the year, the liturgical seasons, are an allegory. Christ is the summer; Christ is the light. Christ is the warmth which lends beauty to winter, the hope which gives us strength to hold out until spring. Christ is the joy, the everlasting joy, of the first bright flower on a fresh green lawn.

May we ever keep this joy, this hope, in our hearts. Just as spring will always come again, good will always triumph, Christ will always reign. The darkness of Good Friday will pass into the light of Easter morning, the terror of the storm will give way to the peace of fair weather.

Rejoice! Rejoice! For He is risen, and the winter is no more.

4 comments:

  1. Wow. Just beautiful. Thank you! And Happy Easter!!!

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  2. I love this :-) Happy Easter, Lucy Agnes!

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