Many thanks to everyone who has responded to my letter last week about changing our worship schedule. My door, inbox, and ears are still open, and I hope more of you will feel free to ask questions, share concerns, and offer suggestions. Please do try to attend the community conversation this Sunday at 9:00 A.M. in Memorial Hall
Meanwhile, I’d like to write this week about a subject dear to my heart: altar flowers.
I love everything about the tradition of flowers at the altar. It is an ancient and world-wide religious impulse to offer blossoms in memory, devotion, and celebration of those we love and the holy powers we cherish and rely on. Flowers not only give us their beauty, but also represent the fleeting nature of all things and so demand that we stay present for all the transient wonders of this world and our lives in it.
The Christian tradition of altar flowers naturally has its own layers of meaning. Our eyes are drawn by shape and color to the altar, where we remember God’s abundant grace through Jesus Christ. The changing colors and shapes remind us to be grateful for God’s ongoing creation, grounded in the Creator’s immovable and unchanging love for us. The act of giving flowers in memory, celebration or thanksgiving visually connect our time of worship with people, places, and events that have come before.
This last point is so important. One of the great teachings of the historical church is “the communion of saints”, the idea that all those who have worshiped, are worshipping, and those who will worship God are connected. When we worship, we do so in communion with all those people—those who have come before and those who will come after us. They are not absent from us. They are present with us in a real though incorporeal way. Flowers, especially those dedicated in memory, make visible that invisible reality.
As you may know, we are currently ordering standard arrangements each week from a local florist, but there has been some conversation about moving to seasonal cut flowers. There is also a desire to start a ministry of taking the flowers after Sunday services to another group of saints we don’t see, our homebound brothers and sisters. I encourage you to consider the flowers—both making offerings and getting involved with this emerging flower ministry. Help us all to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness.