Do you recognize these flowers? One of our church members sent me a picture of these interesting flowers from her garden.
They bloom in the spring, as do most flowers, and then die off in the mid-summer. But just when you are ready to trim them back, cause they’re looking so ratty and spent … lo and behold, they sprout a whole new batch of blossoms, that are as beautiful as their sister growth that graced the spring. Can you guess the name of them now? You got it … lycoris squamigera. Oh wait, that wasn’t the answer that came to mind? Maybe it was the English version you remembered … resurrection lilies. Yup, you got it.
Resurrection lilies. What a beautiful reminder to us that the regenerative power of God is woven into the fabric of the world all around us. But they are not the only parts of creation that speak to God’s power of life over death. Think of the sunshine that graces the horizon following a summer storm, and the vibrancy embodied in the brightness that has returned to the world. Consider the green apples that start to form on your aged apple tree, following two fallow years when you didn’t have enough apples to make an apple tart, let alone a few pies … and the way the return of those ping pong sized apples stirs your heart and invites you to smell that warm pie coming out of the oven. Recall the young calf nursing from momma cow in the Amish farm down the road from where you live. Each of these settings picture for us that same regenerative power of life that the beautiful resurrection lilies possess.
As you are reading this, I am two days away from my double knee replacement surgery. Most of you tuning in to this week’s devotion have had some sort of surgery in your life. And if not, you have certainly had a loved one who has “gone under the knife.” As I think about my time in the OR, I think about the image of resurrection. Not because I expect to die on the table, but because my surgery will give me new life. I will eventually be able to walk without pain … I will have renewed flexibility in these old joints that have been misbehaving on me for a long time. I will be able to squat and pick up my dropped keychain, without having to take a deep breath and pause so as to steel myself against the painful stab I will feel as I bend my knees. It is resurrection I am experiencing. Penultimate resurrection to be sure, as I will not be at the end of life. But aren’t our lives filled with all sorts of moments of resurrection that arrive in our lives penultimately, long before we experience that final resurrection. If you take the time to reflect on your life, you will easily come up with some examples where God has brought new life to you in a way that might be described as a “natural” or “medical” or “attitudinal” adjustment to how you saw the world before that adjustment. You may call it what you wish. But I’m gonna call it resurrection. Maybe, while I’m at it, I’ll even get myself some lilies that are so much more than ordinary lilies, as a little reminder. Happy Easter to you on this 10th day of August.