May Day

May 1, 2005
by Elaine Ingalls Hogg

1 Corinthians 15:51-52,55-57 – We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

A few years ago when I was in Sweden, I was fascinated by the beautifully decorated poles that were the centre of each village square. Brightly-coloured ribbons streamed down from the crossbars which were holding up a wreath of spring flowers. When I asked about the pole, I learned it was the Maypole, and it was the custom for all the villagers to rise up early on the first day of May, before sunrise, and to go to the village square, where the men of the village had limbed a tall tree and left it in the square the night before. In the early dawn, family and friends made a circle around the pole. The children would run through a nearby meadow and pick early spring flowers to put on the wreaths. However they were not allowed to just walk up to the pole and put their flowers on the wreath whenever they wanted. Tradition dictated that they should wait until they heard the start signal, in this case, the sound of music played on horns made from birch bark.

After the pole was decorated with ribbons and flowers, the strongest men in the village walked up to the pole. Their job was to lift it and mount it. After much pushing and pulling, grunting and groaning, the pole was put in place and the fun could begin. Everyone took turns holding on to one of the beautiful ribbons. They danced and sang around the Maypole for the rest of the day.

The tradition of the Maypole reminds me of the men of another village who erected another tree. At the time, those who gathered at the foot of this tree didn't fully understand that its erection was a cause for celebration. Christians today, however, know that hanging on the centre cross on a hill called Mount Calvary was Jesus, God's only Son. On this tree, Christ died, as a sacrifice for our sin. Someday when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, we will gather together from the four corners of the earth, united as a Christian family, and we will celebrate together Christ's victory over sin, death, and the grave.

Acts 5:30 – The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead — whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. (NIV)

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for providing us with the best reason to celebrate. Help us to be ever mindful of the price You paid in order that we may be redeemed. Amen.

About the author:

Elaine Ingalls Hogg <authorhogg@yahoo.ca>
Smiths Creek, New Brunswick, Canada

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