More than spring cleaning.
That's not to conclude that renewal is solely a spring thing. We'll pass other mile markers in this journey with exit ramps for times of personal assessment, evaluation, measurement, and the other scoring metrics we use to calculate progress in life. Glance in the rear view mirror for a quick peek at the New Year's adjustments we were going to make, or the bold promises we posted on social media after our last birthday. Oops! Don't let those anniversaries blip too fast across the screen in your head, the wonderful memories recounted, and the vows repeated, the commitments made anew.
Then again, nature and the various animal species, including us human types, are synced into this magnificent spring where renewal is so vivid and natural. Spring cleaning is wired into us like the sun and moon are calibrated for longer days and shorter nights. That may be one of the more compelling asterisks to a spring renewal process. What an opportune time to straighten up the house a bit, clear the dust from corners, rearrange the furniture, fill up the dumpster, and take a load to the Goodwill or Salvation Army or kidney foundation people. It's au natural in the spring.
And, yes, there's Easter, usually dated in the spring of the year. Easter is the spiritual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. It is the final day of Holy Week and is celebrated with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. It is not scheduled as a fixed calendar date but is calibrated by the occasion of the full moon after the spring equinox. This year, the full moon after the spring equinox (March 20, today), is April 19. Easter Sunday 2019, is Sunday, April 21, 2019.
Jesus and the disciples had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover, their feast in remembrance of their liberation from Egypt. The Jewish Passover continues seven or eight days from the 15th day of Nisan, around April 19, 2019. This means that the Last Supper, the arrest and trail of Jesus, his crucifixion, and glorious resurrection were distinctly spring dates. Easter is one of the two most celebrated dates on the Christian calendar. More Christians around the world will attend church and celebrate Holy Week than at any other time in the ecclesiastical year. In the same way, many liturgical Christians will participate in the forty days of Lent, the remembrance of Christ's forty days in the wilderness and being tempted by Satan. It is a time of sacrifice, self-examination, and personal reflection.
All meaning that Spring has biblical precedents as a time of renewal, restoration, and spiritual refreshment. Many Scriptures reference the work of the empty tomb as evidence of Christ's victory over death and our new life in him---
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ
was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4, ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold,
the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5: 17, ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he
die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you
John 11: 25-26, ESV
And, as usual, there are many others too numerous for mention here. The point is clear, however. The spring of the year is positioned to guide us in times of personal renewal. But, genuine renewal is more than spring cleaning. Sure, we can sweep away cobwebs, vacuum behind the sofa, and put the house in order. You know, the rituals that discover lost socks and bedroom shoes, clean out the pantry, and remove those disgusting science projects from the fridge. However, renewal of mind, body, and spirit happens at a deeper level. It's about the inner self receiving the grace of newness. Scripture is clear about this renewal too---
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him
and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to
your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in
the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in
true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4: 20-24, ESV
Paul's phrasing has several interesting and profound turns. There's an assumption that his readers had heard about and had been taught about Christ. And, of course, learning is a key element in genuine, deep renewal. Then, there's the reference to being "renewed in the spirit of your minds". This indicates that renewal occurs at the deepest level of human thought---where we perceive and understand, where we feel, judge, and determine the direction of our lives. In this renewal pattern Paul indicates that the outer self is eventually changed. It is put off and the new self is put on. The result is righteousness and holiness. It's more than straightening the bookshelves or rinsing the sink. It's renewal at the deepest and most personal level.
Hey! Happy Spring! Now, prayerfully seek a renewed spirit.