The business of rebirth is at hand

The business of rebirth is at hand

The business of rebirth is at hand

It's not for nothing that Passover and Easter occur in the spring, the time of renewal, gratitude and recommitment to faith.

Robert Knight
Robert Knight

Robert Knight is a columnist for The Washington Times. His latest book is "Crooked: What Really Happened in the 2020 Election and How to Stop the Fraud."

Spring is a time of rebirth. As Bob Dylan wrote, "He not busy being born is busy dying."

Things are starting to pop. The Major League Baseball season opened this past week, unpacking decades of memories for some and new delights for others.

Flowering trees and bushes are turning winter's gray into bright spring colors. There's nothing quite like being under a fully blossoming cherry tree when a breeze kicks up.

Hundreds of pinkish-white petals turn the world into a snow globe. Dancing across a road or sidewalk, they seem to be in a mad race.

The other day, in the midst of them, even my dog stopped walking and just stared. She probably was assessing whether they were good to eat, but I prefer to think she was admiring one of God's little miracles.

It's not for nothing that Passover and Easter occur in the spring, the time of renewal, gratitude and recommitment to faith.

For Jews, it's a reminder that God went to great lengths to free their ancestors from pagan tyranny, that He is supreme in all things and that this must never be forgotten.

For Christians, it's about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Passover Lamb who promises eternal life to all who believe.

In 1739, Charles Wesley penned one of the most famous Easter hymns ever written. "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" joyfully asserts that Jesus not only rose from the dead 2,000 years ago but is with us today. The present tense is not an anachronistic tic.

The first stanza is:

"Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!"

Wesley said that he was inspired by a Latin hymn, translated as "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today," which had the original, powerful melody that still rocks churches and makes grown men and women shed tears of joy.

Michael Hawn, writing for the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church, notes that while the original song was good, Wesley sent it into the stratosphere.

His poetry "emphatically affirms the Resurrection as a living, current event" with such lyrics as: 'Thee we greet triumphant now: Hail the Resurrection Thou!'

"Wesley will not allow us to relegate the Resurrection to a mere historical recollection," Mr. Hawn explains. "Rather, it is a seismic occurrence at one time for all times."

The second stanza says:

"Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, oh grave? Alleluia!"

On Palm Sunday, some churches hand out palm fronds to recall how the people hailed Jesus, spreading clothing and branches in his path as he entered Jerusalem. Within a few days, however, most had turned on Him and were calling for his crucifixion.

But on the Sunday following Good Friday's horrific events, Mary Magdalene and Mary (not Jesus' mother) went to the tomb and found it opened and empty. Then Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Lord himself. Soon, he appeared to his disciples and then many more followers before ascending into Heaven.

In his original version of the song, entitled "Hymn for Easter Day," Mr. Wesley had 11 stanzas. Some versions of "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" have seven stanzas, but many hymnals include only four, ending in this one:

"Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!"

This is a far cry from things like nondescript "egg hunts" put on by merchants who fear offending anyone, or the folks who turned Easter Break into Spring Break and Christmas into Winter Break.

An older, wiser Christian who lamented the secularization of Christianity's important days nonetheless told me not to fret overly.

"It drives the secularists crazy that we still make such a big deal out of these holy days in whatever form," he said. "They try to pretend it's about nothing. But every Easter egg and every Christmas carol heard in a mall begs the question: Why?

"And you don't have to dig very deep to uncover the real reasons for the seasons. God's divine gift of salvation is underneath it all.

"So, relax and hand me one of those chocolate bunnies. He is risen indeed!"

This article appeared originally here.

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