CLERGY CORNER: “April is the cruelest month”?

Posted on 31 March 2016 by LeslieM

T. S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month.” I beg to differ. For me, April is a month overflowing with hope and with promises fulfilled. In the northern hemisphere, it’s the beginning of springtime, and if you’ve ever lived on the cold side of 40 degrees north latitude, then, with the coming of April, you’ve paid your winter dues and are ready to enjoy the first blooming of the cherry blossoms.

I’ve long held a completely unsubstantiated belief, that when our Lord rested on the seventh day of Creation, it just happened to be on a beautiful day in April, and, when He saw what He had made, He declared: “it was very good.”

Yes, our Lord’s Creation is spectacular in April, but we may miss the whole divine show if our thoughts turn to other Aprils – those past, present and future – and the memories of losses and fears that may come to mind. Any Biblical-optimism generated by the wonders of Creation can be a challenge to defend, in the face of our own doubts, and to the skeptics of our world. Remember Saul on the road to Damascus, who could only see a god of anger and was blind to the God of Love.

Our God knows this about our thought process and that’s why He never leaves our side even if we think we’re meant to go it alone and all talk of hope and promises aren’t in the cards for us.

When such thoughts make their appearance, we need to be reminded that, if God permits “a time to weep and a time to mourn,” he also provides “a time to laugh and a time to dance.” Holy Scripture is teeming with stories of the self-inflicted tribulations of flawed humankind, and how our God redeems us with His love when we turn to Him. The story of our redemption is a golden thread that runs through the Bible from beginning to end.

We find an early stitch in this golden thread in the Book of Genesis; there, we learn what happened to Adam and Eve, our first parents, when they made their ill-fated choice to disobey God. They were driven from an earthly paradise in the Garden of Eden, but not before God gently clothed them against the elements of a cruel world. Yes, there are also cruel times in each of our lives, often engendered by the poor choices we make; but our pathway through these cruel times may be successfully navigated when we follow the directions our Lord lovingly lays out for us.

We find another stitch in this golden thread in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. He wrote of the Hebrew’s disobedience leading to the Babylonian Exile and to their losing all hope of ever returning to their homeland. Their longing to return is offered as a prayer in Verdi’s stunningly beautiful “Va, pensiero” which is sung by Hebrew slaves on the banks of the River Euphrates in the opera Nabucco. God did lead the Hebrews home to their beloved Jerusalem and enabled them to rebuild their city.

There may be times in each of our lives when we feel an estrangement from friends, family and home and can’t see any way for a re-connection. During these times, we need to remember the power of prayers and that they are like the ever-returning spring. They never leave our lips without the promise of our God’s providential reply.

And, finally, with each spring, God’s golden thread leads to the remembrance of the singular event in the story of our redemption that overflows with hope and with promises fulfilled – the glorious Resurrection of our Lord on Easter morning after he was savagely crucified on Good Friday. Yes, although we also experience times of suffering in this life, the promise of Easter is that we will also rise again to life eternal with our Lord. Is April the “cruelest month”? I don’t think so, especially when we kneel at the foot of the Cross and look up at our risen Lord and all the hopes and fulfilled promises that entails.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is from the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Morning Prayer at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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