It’s spring again. Trees are budding, birds are chirping, and the grass is growing after months of being covered with ice, snow and cold. A new beginning is at hand. As we celebrate Easter and this new season, I encourage you to pay close attention to the rhythms of nature.
Recently, as I was driving down Stony Island, my sons were excited to see the beautiful tulips, daffodils, and other flowers lining the street. As we marveled at the colorful array of blossoms, I reminded them of winter: long nights, harsh winds, bitter cold, and freezing snow. In a real sense, I reminded them of the difficulties that the flowers went through before they experienced their breakthrough.
You see, the flowers that we marveled at were not planted at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but are planted on the Stony Island Avenue. “South Side Flowers” are not treated the same way as “North Side / Suburban Flowers” are. “North Side / Suburban Flowers” have access to abundant resources: their grounds are maintained and their soil beds are raked. On the other hand, because of neglect, budget cuts and outright discrimination, “South Side Flowers” must fight for resources by themselves to ensure their survival for themselves. Nevertheless, there they were. Though no one had cleared their path; though no one had made it easy for them to grow, there they were…on Stony Island Avenue… rising up for the world to see. The “South Side Flowers,” even though they had been forgotten about and their fate seemed to be to suffer by themselves, hidden, buried and left to die, there they were, budding, beautiful, alive and strong. Can I tell you why? They were created to rise! Something in those beautiful, budding flowers would not be denied. They persevered the long nights, harsh winds, and bitter cold. They propelled themselves against the odds and broke through the ground to achieve their purpose. Why, because it is in their nature to rise despite difficult circumstances!
On that first resurrection Sunday, early in the morning on that first Easter day, it was in Jesus’ nature to rise. Despite the unjust treatment, the lies, and the dysfunctional criminal justice system, Jesus arose with all power in his hand. Beloved, the resurrection of Jesus is proof that we are created to rise! Because Jesus rose, the ability to rise above all that would keep us down, is in our nature too. In her poem entitled: “Still I Rise,” the prolific and prophetic poet Maya Angelou captures this sentiment of resilience and determination despite neglect and discrimination:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Easter is not just about Jesus, it’s about you! Will you rise up above what tries to keep you down? Join us. Consider making Jesus your Lord and Bethesda your church. Together, as disciples of a Risen Savior, we are bringing the Easter message to life. Happy Easter. May God Bless you all!
Belong. Believe. Become.
Rev. David W. Watkins, III – Pastor