John Ellis, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, reflects on the life cycle of daffodils and what it can teach us about retaining our Easter confidence all year round.
Coming out of York station, I was confronted by a magnificent display of daffodils carpeting the banks leading up to the city walls. All on cue for Easter.
The grassy bank continued round the corner tower of the city walls and I looked forward to another stunning display. But in drab contrast the banks here were bare of daffodils save for a few floppy and nearly dead flowers. The explanation was simple: this bank faces south and catches the sun so the display had already come and gone.
I was struck by the parallels with many of our churches at Easter. Not just through the flower displays, Easter Sunday morning is a special service when there seems to be ample confidence – even joy – to carry us through the coming week and all the challenges to our faith. All too soon a corner is turned, all the confidence seems to drain away and we are back to being anxious and nervous, slightly drab and not too sure The Greatest Story Ever Told is one we want to mention over coffee.
Trying to cling on to what is temporary never works of course. We might do well to notice, though, that the bank of dead flowers was where the sun had been most intense. Far from being less interesting, this bank had simply moved on further. The death of the daffodils was making the bank ready for what would come next.
Maybe we would be less alarmed in our churches at letting go of what is past, even the beautiful parts of it, if we retained our Easter confidence in death being the preparation for resurrection. That conversation over coffee might be more interesting too.