Early in the morning before the dawn on the first day of spring, my dad died 25 years ago … and amazingly, my brother Don who lived in Florida, was also there with all six of us boys in the family!
On this special anniversary, it’s a Sunday, remembering the Lord’s Resurrection before the dawn on the first day of the week … and this year, brother Don is there with Dad again, in heaven! Praise the Lord!
Brother Brad, who still lives with his family in his own house on our farm, remembers getting called in the middle of the night to come over to be with Dad and Don, who was sitting next to the bed holding Dad’s hand.
The afternoon before his death, Dad was so concerned Don would not get home from Florida soon enough because he wanted to see his smallest son, born 3 pounds, 3 ounces, before he died, and he did. What a blessing, and now he is with his smallest son, who died last June, again!
So many great memories of farm life with an all-boy family remain, especially as spring arrived each year. We joked that a kernel of corn planted in the rich black loamy soil of our fields would germinate so quickly and grow so fast, you had best jump out of its way.
And we were confident that kernel would die in the ground and yield a strong and tall cornstalk with three ears of filled-out corn cobs that produced even more than 30 or 60 or even the 100-fold mentioned in the scripture.
So, at Dad’s graveside service of committal in the Spring Garden Lutheran Church Cemetery, instead of making the sign of the cross on his casket with sand from a vial provided by the funeral director, we spread some of that rich black loamy soil on top the casket, and then I traced the sign of the cross in it with my finger. Remember, Dad died in springtime, and not long before planting time!
Another favorite vernal equinox memory remains from the farm where Mom cared for our 600 laying hens, cleaning and packing their eggs for the “egg man” to pick up in big cases with his truck every week.
The first day of spring gave opportunity to balance an egg on its end because we thought the Earth’s rotation and the orientation of the equator made it possible. The eggs did balance (although we sometimes cheated, stabilizing them in a few grains of salt on the kitchen table). Boy, were we disappointed when we learned that it was all a myth of science, and an egg with a well-aligned yolk could balance any day of the year!
Because the first minute of spring happened during worship at 10:33 a.m., we attempted but failed an egg stand on the altar at the opening of our service. Fun. But, most importantly, the springtime Easter egg illustration of new life breaking out of the tomb-like shell reinforced our trust and belief in the resurrection to eternal life.
We must ponder the promise of the resurrection, especially when we prayerfully remember the faith of Ukrainian people whose tradition of painting and decorating their Ukrainian Easter eggs is known now as it has been for centuries around the world!
Since my youth and through my years as a pastor, I’ve often said, “I got most of my theology on the seat of a John Deere! Round after round, the seed goes in the ground, and the sun and rain bring forth abundant harvests season after season and year after year! This can’t just happen … there must be a God!”
When I arrived at seminary, I was elated listening to a much-beloved professor who spoke often of all the thinking and theologizing he did on the seat of a John Deere, too! And then, one day in the chapel when the seminary president preached on the etiology of the word “seminary,” I was overjoyed that it comes from the Latin word for “seedbed!” Some in my congregations said I was in sales and marketing, but I responded, “No, I’m in seed-planting and farming!”
Friends who live in the southern Sunbelt year around, especially those in the desert of Arizona where I lived for a year of seminary internship, ask, “How can you live in the cold northern climate?” I respond, “Because I love the change of seasons, and I especially love spring!” I love the Earth’s summer, fall, winter, and spring! I love the church’s Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter!
Today I especially love the first day of spring because it came on a Sunday – the day my dad died 25 years ago and the day of the Lord’s resurrection!
Editor’s note: EPLN contributor Pastor Rod Anderson serves on the EPLN Board of Directors. Anderson is the former senior pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie. If you would like to contribute a faith-based column to EPLN, email email@example.com.