Consider the Lilies
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. – Luke 1:26-27 (NRSV)
Reminder to church administrators, flower committee chairs, and beleaguered pastors who have to do everything, even the flowers: it’s time to figure out about ordering lilies for Easter.
Lilies are everywhere present in our imagination of Jesus’ life, a sort of white and gold thread.
Paintings of the Feast of the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared to Mary, more often than not show Gabriel holding a lily. It’s said that, when the elders were looking for a husband for Mary, Joseph was chosen when lilies burst out of his staff. That lilies sprang up where Jesus’ sweat fell in the garden of Gethsemane. That they grew where drops of his blood fell from his body on the cross. That lilies were growing where Jesus’ body had been when the women arrived on Easter.
It’s a whole thing. With that thread of lilies, we recognize: Easter is present at the Annunciation, and vice versa. Good Friday is there at the Incarnation, and the reverse.
Travel far enough down the road of the incarnation, and you find yourself at the crucifixion. Keep traveling on through the resurrection, though, and sooner or later you find yourself in a 21st-century church sanctuary with a young girl and a bright light and “Greetings, favored one!” ringing through the lily-scented air.
Let the circle be unbroken. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.