There are many people who find February a hard month, and I am certainly one of them. The excitement and wonder of Christmas has been and gone and those New Year resolutions, which we made with such earnestness and hope, seem like a distant memory. It is still cold and wet and the nights continue to be long and lights are switched on far earlier than we would like. The heralding of spring in snowdrops and daffodils and blossom, may be just around the corner, but in February, after all those dark evenings, Spring can still seem very far away. But we all know that Spring will come. The flowers will grow again and flower, the birds that have wintered in warmer climes will fly back to our gardens and our fields, and before we know it the warmth of Summer will be here.
The seasons often feature in the Bible. When the Bible was written the vast majority of people would have worked on the land, and even if they were city-dwellers their lives would still have been regulated by agricultural seasons: the time to sow the grain and the time to harvest. Until relatively recently, life in Britain would have been dominated by farming life too, from the way people worked and the jobs that needed doing, to the types of fruits and vegetables that were available in the shops. In our modern consumerist world, we don't really have 'seasonal' fruit and vegetable any more, most things are available all year round.
The changing of the seasons also had an important spiritual message for many people too. The progression from one season to another marked the passage of time and created a sense of order. A passage in the book of Ecclesiastes (which also appears in the song "Time, Time, Time" by Peter Seeger) says, 'For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.... a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted' (Eccl. 3:1-2). And in the Psalms it says that God has made 'the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting' (Ps. 104:19). There is a rhythm to the year and, also, a rhythm in our daily lives. However much some of us may dislike the cold, long nights of winter, and however much the coming of Spring seems to drag in February, each of the seasons gives us that sense of time and rhythm that we really need.
For many Christian writers the way the earth could at one time be so cold and seemingly dead in winter, and suddenly be full of life in the Spring, was like the death and resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, it seemed that all was lost; but on Easter Day, Jesus was resurrected and appeared to his friends: new life had come. The coming of spring was seen as a metaphor for the hope and promise of new life. This sense of hope for the future, can also be used of our lives. There will always be times when we feel like winter, because life is not always easy and life is not always joyful like the spring; but Christians draw hope in the new life that will come with the Spring. So in February, think about your hopes for the future and the new life and joys that may come.
About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.