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February 28, 2022
March 30, 2022

New Seasons, New Mercies

“‘Yours is the day, yours also the night;
You have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.’” (Psalm 74:16–17 ESV)

I am so thankful that God created seasons. In His creative genius and wisdom, God knew we would benefit from mile markers along the highways of our collective journeys. Nature offers us sacred reminders of the ground our lives have covered, and the distance we have yet to go before we make it home—a rhythmic pulse through which we measure the passing of years. These reminders provide repetition and regularity, helping to break up the seemingly random onslaught of joys and sorrows that we inevitably encounter, and to comfort us as we attach markers to memories and horizons to futures.

Summer follows spring, with a lengthening of days and a slowing of cadence. Our urgency turns to the ongoing pursuit of the cool of shade, or the pool, or the sea. We welcome summer’s arrival and then, by August, we long for it to leave.

Fall follows summer. The long days of relentless heat shorten, bringing with them the comfort of cooler evenings, and sweatpants, and hoodies and other things we haven’t worn for months. The comfort of the cool comes at the cost of cadence, as busy lives bluster right through this most beautiful of seasons.

Winter follows fall, always too soon, with the great, natural reset of dormancy. The earth respites beneath a blanket of frost, resting—but ready for resurrection. It seems dead, but it’s just sleeping. The crispness of the air reminds us we have turned away from the sun, yet we remain safely bound to its warmth. Its presence, no matter how dim or brief, sustains us again and again.

Spring follows winter. Green shoots of new life burst from tombs that hold things we have forgotten were alive. Wildflowers bloom in places where their seeds were long ago forgotten, and where beauty seems unlikely. God makes it all new again. We get another go around, with new life, new hope, new optimism, and new mercies.

What you have in your hands is a guide for this season, a resource to help mark the arrival of spring and its bounty. It is a reminder to not miss the power and beauty of this season. At the same time, it is a pile of ebenezer stones with wildflowers sprouting from it, a testimony reminding us that God calls forth the dead to live.

I grew up in the southern hemisphere where Easter is autumnal, so it has a mood of sober acknowledgment that death precedes new life. But I love that, in the northern hemisphere, Easter takes place in spring. A springtime Easter reminds us that new life most certainly follows the coldest of winters, and resurrection arises from the darkest of tombs.

The account of Jesus Christ dying for us and being laid in a borrowed tomb feels like the dormancy of winter. It doesn’t seem as if any life could possibly come from it. All seems lost. And yet, that cold tomb was opened to the warmth of God’s resurrecting power. The regenerating breath of heaven blew over a dormant place of death on earth, and new life broke into the long winter of the world.

Spring follows winter.
Resurrection follows death.
Glory follows suffering.
God makes all things new.

Enjoy God’s reminders available to you in the liturgies you hold in your hands. Don’t rush through this season. Rest in it. Dwell with and consider the new life of the resurrection that Jesus makes available to us all.” (Ross Lester, “New Seasons, New Mercies,” Words for Spring)

Words for Spring is a collection of 75 liturgies that help mark the arrival of spring—a testimony reminding us that God calls forth the dead to life. Written by 33 authors from our church family, this follow-up volume to Words for Winter is full of worshipful prayers and poems highlighting everyday moments of spring, milestones of Holy Week, and contemplations of select events and people associated with Jesus’ ministry. Its liturgies—prayers meant to be spoken aloud or read silently—invite people to dwell with God and to know Him more deeply. Purchase your copy of Words for Spring here.

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Ross Lester
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Austin Stone Institute
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