Thought of the week
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1 Corinthians 15 part of v 54
In Pembrokeshire, Tuesday was a glorious day. The sun shone; the new green sparkled and all was well with the world. I had some pressing work, but this was no day for sitting in front of the computer. I yielded to temptation and went to fetch my hat and stick. For the first time this year, I felt no need of a coat.
As I stepped from the front door, I stopped to admire the vibrant colours of bulbs in my garden and remarked to myself that I had never seen the magnolia in such magnificent, exuberant bloom.
I was by no means the only resident of Spittal who had been enticed out. Several of my neighbours were taking the air. As I passed three ladies, I said to them, “Aren’t the celandines a picture!” And indeed they were. The small Green that I was passing was a sea of smiling, shining yellow. (Don’t worry, I know I gave you a sermon on the virtues of the celandine last week. I do not plan to follow up with another.)
But although it predominated, the celandine was not the only flower to have taken residence in that Green. The ubiquitous daisy was mixing its white with the yellow and the delicate little speedwell was providing patches of blue.
As I walked on, I noticed that celandines and daisies were to be found in every patch of green and every lawn. Clumps of primroses, both yellow and pink, flourished in the hedgerows and some of these too had strayed into lawns. Dandelions are not popular with gardeners, but their flowers add a wonderful gaiety to the wildflower scene. They were there and, further out from the village were white campions and violets, with the pink campions and Queen Anne’s lace just beginning. Enjoying them all, I walked further than usual, not hurrying, but stopping to appreciate flowers, birdsong and views.
I thought of Jesus on His way to Jerusalem and of the crowds who came to see him, as eager and as varied as the flowers. And He had time to notice and to care for each one of them; the tiny speedwell and the retiring violet as much as the obvious celandine and the overstated dandelion.
Eventually, I turned back. As I neared the village, a sound permeated the air. “Oh dear,” I thought, “my poor little celandines!”
I was not mistaken. One of my neighbours had decided that it was time to mow the lawn and behead the celandines and daisies. I would have been broken hearted but for one thing. I knew a secret. No matter how many heads she chops off, they’ll be back. Indeed, they already are. The life force in the roots and plants of celandines and daisies is more than enough for them to flower again after the minor upset of a lawnmower.
The enemies of Jesus looked at His kindness and love, His power to heal and inspire; His determination and courage and hated Him. There were vain, stupid, power hungry people; fearful, bigoted small minded people. There were worldly wise and cowardly people. But, behind them all, there was a greater power; the tainted power of evil itself.
In its loathing self-absorbtion, it hated the loving figure of Jesus. It reached out to destroy Him utterly. It determined to have the world for itself. Death and Hell would reign supreme. Jesus must die. The head must be cut from the flower.
He was taken, insulted and tortured. He was crucified. He died.
How hell crowed in its exultation. Death had won as he always did. God was dead and evil would reign supreme.
Jesus died on Friday. Through Saturday, His body lay in the tomb. Satan danced in the pornography of his exultation.
Sunday came and Satan looked for his henchman, Death. But death lay in the dust, defeated. The flower was there, risen in all His beauty. He was too big for death to hold. He had given Himself and the power of death was broken for ever.
When the celandine or the daisy raises its head again after the ordeal of the lawnmower, its beauty and its strength remains the same.
The risen Christ stood in all the power and glory of God, towering above the devil in flamboyant beauty and strength as high and as far as the magnolia rises above the celandine and the daisy. His eternal Love was, is and ever shall be triumphant over evil and death. By His victory, He opens the way to eternal, joyful life to all who will take His hand and be led by Him.
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
P.S. My lawn mowing neighbour is a delightful Christian lady and a stalwart of the local Baptist Church.