Our pastor had some good reflections in our church newsletter on the 17-year locusts (a.k.a. “cicadas”) coming out of the ground around these parts. He manages to connect cicadas to people, sin, the church, death, resurrection, and baptism!Rev. James Douthwaite, Cicadas and Resurrection:
As I sit writing this letter to you all, I am listening to the cicadas – who have emerged from the ground after their 17 years of slumber – “sing.” These are strange creatures. They do not bite, they do not harm people, they seem to have no real purpose except as food for birds. They’re ugly, what with their large bodies and beady red eyes. Yet they are a part of God’s good and perfect creation. They were not an accident or some weird pre-historic leftover of evolution. They were made by God, specially and purposefully, and yes, He loves them.
The same is true for you. You were specially created by God and are special to Him and loved by Him. You are no accident, but part of His grand and loving plan . . . though perhaps, like with the cicadas, you can’t quite figure out how. Though, like the cicadas, you are ugly with sin. But God is working good for you and through you for others. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students – God has put you there for them, and them there for you.
And the same is true with our church, our little fellowship named Saint Athanasius. It is no accident that you are here, in this time and place. You “emerged” – maybe after being somewhere else for a while – in order to be with us now. Because God knows we need you. You are His gift to us, and we His gift to you. So I thank God for each and every one of you, that I am able to serve you, learn from you, and be forgiven by you. And I thank God that I am able to give you His gifts on His behalf – His forgiveness, life, and salvation through the Word and Sacraments, that you need. And while our church may seem ugly and of not much use to the world, we know that it, too, is God’s good and perfect creation. His Bride.
One other thing about the cicadas – they’ll soon be gone. They’ll disappear as quickly as they came, back into the ground from which they came. And so it is for us. We hear it on Ash Wednesday: Remember, O man, that you are dust, and to dust you will return. But like the cicada, we will emerge out of the ground – not in 17 years, but on the last day, in the resurrection, and we too will come out singing! Singing the praises of our Saviour who emerged after three days in the ground in death, defeating death and the grave for us, and providing for us a way out of death to life again. And this time, never to die or go away again.
What a day that will be, when all the dead are raised – even more than all the cicadas coming out of the ground now! (And we have a LOT around our house!) So thanks be to God for the cicadas. Thanks be to God that He cares for all His creation. And thanks be to God that He cares for you, even more than the cicadas – enough to send His Son to be your Saviour, so that ugly-in-sin you will “emerge and arise to live before Him in righteousness and purity forever” (Small Catechism: What does such baptizing with water indicate?). That’s already happening now as you live in your Baptism, but will happen fully and finally on the last day. When you who have been baptized by Christ, fed by Christ’s Body and Blood, and forgiven by Christ, will see the light of the Son which will never set again.
So next time you see or hear a cicada . . .