Finding Easter hope for creation

A pair of hands holds a mound of soil with a green sprout.
 on April 2, 2024

When I lived in New York City, one of the churches I worked with had a music director from Australia. One Easter season, he shared with the congregation how wildly different Easter had felt to him during his first year living in New York. Having spent his whole life in the Southern Hemisphere, he had only ever experienced Easter in the autumn. The Easter imagery and metaphor that is typically used in cards, prayers, hymns, paintings, even liturgy had been incongruous in his context. Images of blossoms, daffodils, lambs and chicks – and resurrection metaphors of rebirth and new life, of plants shooting up from the bare earth – had little meaning.

He told us how amazed he was, that first year in New York, walking to church on Easter Sunday and noticing that blossoms had appeared on the trees almost overnight, feeling the warmth of the sun for the first time after a long winter, hearing the birds sing, witnessing tulips and daffodils springing up from earth that looked cracked and barren. He experienced the beginning of Eastertide very differently when he could suddenly see, hear, smell and feel the new life of creation all around him.

He wrote a song in response, which I still listen to every Easter season. During the Covid lockdowns, as I ventured out on my daily walk around my local park, I would play this song at full volume through my headphones, reminding myself to pay attention to the signs of spring beginning to appear – a little later here in Toronto than in New York – noticing the buds on the trees, the green shoots poking up through the ground, singing at the top of my voice:

The winter is o’er
Chase away old thoughts of sadness and fear
The Saviour who rose
Calls us to resurrect hope and good cheer

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! The winter is o’er

New hope has arrived
Smelling of springtime as flowers appear
The promise of life
Blooms from the barren and frost-bitten earth 

Springtime is here
The rolled away stone, the victorious Son
Death could not hold him down
Tore up the broken ground
Jesus our Lord overpower’d the grave

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Jesus is risen

In those days when regular routines of worship were disrupted, this became my Easter ritual, singing and walking in creation, trying to instill hope into my body. And as I visited the same park daily and paid attention to the changing seasons around me more closely than ever before, I started to wonder what Jesus’ death and resurrection means for creation.

As a child in Sunday School, I memorized John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son,” but somehow “the world” always meant “people.” In my evangelical upbringing, I understood that God loved people so much that Jesus died on the cross in our place, so that we could be forgiven and one day escape this world to go to heaven. Only later did I begin to wonder what it meant that God so loved the world.

If God’s love for all creation resulted in the incarnation, then Jesus’ death and resurrection brings redemption to the whole earth, not just to human beings. If the events we celebrate at Easter signal the beginning of the redemption and restoration of all creation, then we should not expect to escape from this world. Instead, Easter reminds us that one day the whole earth will be restored, and all creation will be set free from suffering and decay and worship the creator.

In this Easter season, as we witness signs of resurrection in creation all around us, let us repent from the ways we have destroyed and polluted God’s creation and re-commit ourselves to praying and working for the restoration of all things.


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