Nothing Holds Back Spring

An Act of Defiance

Texas pastor and colleague, Don Underwood, declared that “as an act of defiance against the pandemic” he planted tulip bulbs in his backyard on December 21, the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. When he saw the new shoots rising through the previously frozen ground, he wrote, “Damn if they haven’t come up! As far as I can tell, nothing is going to hold back spring!”

Maybe that’s part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

An old Easter hymn affirms the same hope.

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

To live into the hope of resurrection means holding onto that hope through every dark, frigid, wintery day of apparent defeat, loss and pain. The love that became flesh in Jesus will not ultimately be defeated! Nothing can stop it! Love comes again!

If you’d like to hear stories of some of the ways spring comes again, I recommend Jason Byassee’s new book, Northern Lights: Resurrecting Church in the North of England.

Spring Comes Slowly

And so we wait. Sometimes spring is slow in coming. Through the long winter of the pandemic, there have been more than enough people who have tried to deny the reality of it or rush the recovery. But it takes the discipline and patience of the scientist rather than knee-jerk reaction of self-absorbed political pundits to get through it. But in spite of death, loneliness, isolation, and frustration, we dare to believe that the pandemic will pass and we can participate in its passing. Nothing will hold back spring.

You’ve probably never heard of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. (I never had!) But we all know a poem she wrote for Sunday School children in 1830.

Mary had a little lamb,
   Its fleece was white as snow,
And every where that Mary went
   The lamb was sure to go

Her novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, was the first American novel published by a woman and one of the first books dealing with slavery. She was an ardent abolitionist who was also committed to women’s education. She would wait (and work) for 35 years through the Civil War for coming of the 13th Amendment in 1865. She died 41 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. But she dared to believe that spring would one day come and she made her own contribution to its coming.

Nearly a century later, we continue to wrestle with the issues she confronted. In spite of the Civil War, the Amendments to the Constitution, and Martin Luther King, Jr., the sinister sin of racism and white supremacy is very much alive among us and being encouraged by some religious and political leaders.

In spite of two women seated behind the President in the House of Representatives, many women continue to face injustice in many places.

The struggle for “liberty and justice for all” in which so many others have been engaged for so long goes on. Seeds that were planted long ago continue to break through the frozen surface of our sin-damaged world. When we see them, we can all say, “Damn if they haven’t come up! As far as I can tell, nothing is going to hold back spring!”

Grace, peace and courage,


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6 thoughts on “Nothing Holds Back Spring

  1. Martha Harnish May 3, 2021 — 1:27 pm

    Another good post! >

  2. Bernard Lieving, Jr. May 3, 2021 — 1:38 pm

    Jim,Thanks. A great message for these days.Grace and peace,Bernie

  3. Judith Harnish May 3, 2021 — 7:57 pm

    Nice! *Judy Harnish*

    *“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson*

  4. Thank you for your posts. Look forward to them each week. They have a real boost in my Christian journey,

  5. Charles M. Smith May 4, 2021 — 11:31 pm

    Love your posts.

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