All Things New
Last week, my wife and I headed to the Hocking Hills area here in Ohio to celebrate our fourth anniversary and spend our first nights away from home together since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Our trip was far from "normal" by pre-pandemic standards. We still carried out our meals to eat alone in our yurt, wore our masks when going out, and kept our distance from other hikers on the trails. But feeling comfortable to take such a trip was significant progress in and of itself, and we were refreshed by the time away.
As we enjoyed our days in nature, I couldn't help but see signs of rebirth everywhere. Of course, we experienced the beauty of creation slowly turning the corner from winter to spring - flowing streams and waterfalls framed by icicles, bare branches and dry leaves mingled with mud and fresh green shoots. But this spirit of renewal was also present in other ways, from the energy of beginning a new year of marriage to the hope of returning to even greater normalcy.
We arrived home on Saturday evening, and Easter Sunday brought our first in-person worship service with our church family in several months. Our leaders at Atonement Lutheran Church have done a great job of balancing the imperative to gather for corporate worship with the realities of the past year and offered options for online participation as well as indoor and outdoor in-person services this Easter. I was privileged to lead music for the outdoor service and was once again revived by gathering with the people of God. We still long to be all together in one space again, but the signs of renewal in our community are stirring as we move forward. Our small Easter family meal was still outside and socially distanced but was a far cry from last year when we were all holed up in our own homes!
As a Christian, I believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were and are the defining moments of human history. They are monumental and unparalleled. But they were not uncharacteristic acts on God's part. In the first verse of the Bible, God is creating (Gen 1:1). At the end of Revelation, he says, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Rev 21:5 ESV). In the meantime, we can embrace the continued wonder of renewal and fresh starts that are constantly present in creation. This is the blessed reality of Easter, and it is one that we can embrace daily in this season of new life and hopeful promise.