Now the green blade riseth
A century ago, the great journalist and Catholic provocateur G.K.Chesterton wrote a wonderful essay entitled ‘The Priest of Spring’ in which he considered the integration of the Christian seasons with the natural year – and referred to the “armies of the intellect who will fight to the end on whether Easter is to be congratulated on fitting in with the spring or the spring on fitting in with Easter”.
It’s a familiar theme, often replayed in the media at this time of year – if (to my mind) a fairly pointless one. For the authenticity of the Christian celebration of Easter does not pivot on its historical priority to pagan or other celebrations of the natural year, but rather on its - far bolder - claim to fulfil them.
The Biblical account of resurrection is not that Easter merely recapitulates a universal theme, but that it marks an entirely new creative act, pointing to nature’s ultimate liberation from the cycle of growth and decay. We can believe it or not, but the New Testament appears to claim nothing less, St Paul concluding that: ‘if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation”.
The eggs and lambs and green blades that now rise to greet the spring are no less joyous in that light, but – I suggest – even more so, and I pray you will share in their praise.