While this picture shows a different city the same tension between the beauty of spring and ugliness underneath, plays itself out in Worcester. As the piles of snow melt cars drive through deep puddles laced with oil, rock salt, and months of sand spread to help slipping tires. Under the leftover snowbanks in the background a collection of cigarette buts, crumpled coffee cups, bleeding newspapers, and dog feces will emerge as the greying mounds shrink and melt. Yet, the sun shines. It is all worth it the moment your face feels the warmth and we wake from our slumber.
As I watch the melting snow I think of a quote from Richard Lovelace, a theologian and author who says,
Do not pray only for your spiritual renewal. Pray for a springtime of the Spirit which will enrich the church and the world, an awakening for which all earlier renewal movements have been only rehearsals.
We pray for God’s renewing work in Worcester and strive to imagine a springtime that comes from the Holy Spirit. I think of tulips bursting from their bulbs, the early bloom of magnolias and the fragrance of hyacinths along the walkway, but forget the litter and months detritus that will be exposed. It is a healthy corrective to remember that our prayers for God’s work of restoration and hope always involve an opening of the infected wound, an exposure of the hidden trash underneath. If God were to pour out his Spirit on Worcester like the warmth of springtime sun, what would be exposed? I’m beginning to learn… Yet I am increasingly convinced that renewal is always worth the pain of opening the poisoned wound. The warmth of the sun, the sap in the trees and green shoots, the green shoots that God would plant, nurture, and grow…
Spring is inevitable. Though we wonder how long the snow will last we are assured that it will melt. The great hope of the Christian is God’s promise to set right all things and usher in the ultimate and eternal spring when all streams will run clean, all plants bud and blossom. The certainty of this hope is seen through the scriptures and I am especially struck by the proactive role of God in Isaiah 65 in which God will beat us to the punch. Before we even ask for the snow to melt the warmth will touch our faces – all will be well.
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.