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)
QUINN G. CALDWELL | 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. Today’s a good day for such a reminder, because tomorrow
is the Feast of the Annunciation.
Long ago, somebody decided that the 25th of March is officially the day that Gabriel appeared to Mary. For just as long, people have been trying to capture this moment with paint, and more often than not, they paint Gabriel holding a lily. It’s a whole thing.
They also claim 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.
Lilies are everywhere present in our imagination of Jesus’ life, a sort of white and gold thread. 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 twenty-first-century church sanctuary with a young girl and a bright light and “Greetings, favored one!” ringing through the lily-scented air.
It requires honest person-to-person communication.