Thorns Transformed – The Flowering of the Wreath
Each Easter I love to tell the old legend of a priest who found a branch of a thorn tree which resembled Jesus’ crown of thorns. He saw it as a symbol of the crucifixion, so he placed it on the altar in his church one Good Friday afternoon.
On Easter morning he remembered that he had left it there and wanted to remove it before the congregation came. When he went into the church he found the thorn branches blossoming with beautiful flowers. What had seemed dead was blooming with life.
This legend has such a beautiful meaning. After all, doesn’t God’s presence as Divine Order make meaning and beauty out of the difficulties we go through? And isn’t spring itself the perfect example of new life breaking through? This morning I’d like to invite you to take part in our traditional symbol of this idea.
The “crown of thorns” has been placed here on the easel. All of you who come to church here this morning are going to fill that wreath with colorful flowers, imagining Divine Love transforming your difficulties into stories of power and growth. At the 11:00 service, when the wreath is completely filled with flowers … we’ll hang it up on the wall. It will stay there all through the spring … as a symbol of our own blossoming.
So, let’s begin. Ushers will you come forward and hold the bowls of flowers. Starting with the last row on either side of the aisle, please come up side by side by the center aisle … place your flowers in the wreath … and then return to your seats by the side aisles. When you return to your seat, please relax in silence and enjoy the beautiful music as you watch the dead wreath bloom with color.
The Resurrected Life, Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011
Sometimes we human beings make things so complicated, and Mrs. Green, Presbyterian Sunday School teacher of 4-year-olds, was no exception. All throughout Lent, she had been working very hard trying to get her students to understand the meaning of Easter. On Easter Sunday morning, she asked her class if anyone knew what Jesus’ said to the angels when he first stepped out from the tomb. Little Jennie immediately started waving her hand in the air, “I know, I know”, she called out. “Okay Jennie”, said a hopeful Mrs. Green, “what were Jesus’ first words?” Jennie leapt joyously from her seat and with a huge grin, said, “TA –DA”!
The Scriptures often seem somber don’t they? I like Jennie’s Easter story better. I think it captures the spirit of resurrection perfectly. And you know what … Easter is not only a remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection; it is a celebration of our own. Today is a day to know … beyond the shadow of a doubt … that our lives up to this point are over. No matter what has happened … no matter what we’ve done, it’s gone … leaving behind only the good … the learning … the growth. This is a brand casino online uk new day. We are back from the grave of the past, and ready to start a whole new life.
So, everyone please stand. Perhaps life has gotten you down lately … maybe you’ve had some pretty big challenges to deal with … maybe you’ve been distracted … you head not completely in the game. But now it’s Easter morning and you’re back – all the way back. It’s the first day of the rest of your life. What do you have to say to the world this morning? Together …
TA – DA. OK, that was a little weak. Let’s try again. What do you have to say to the world today? TA – DA. Right! Here we are world. Get ready! We are no longer seekers. We have found what we were looking for. We are no longer broken souls in need of salvation. We are glowing with life. We’re not waiting for anything anymore. BECAUSE … everything we could ever want is HERE NOW. THIS IS IT!!! So, let’s party!
But wait, wait you say, I still don’t have everything I want. My job is not perfect … my marriage is not perfect … my kids are not perfect … my health is not perfect … my bank account is really not perfect. I AM NOT PERFECT!
YES YOU ARE. IT ALL IS. Everything is perfect in your life.
You know why? Because it’s YOUR life … designed to the exact specifications you have called out. It is not anyone else’s life, so don’t bother comparing. Like absolutely everything else in God’s world, we are all built for growth. And grow we will … until the day we leave our bodies behind. The circumstances of your life and mine are soil and fertilizer … in just the right proportions to make us bloom into brilliant, colorful expressions of … you got it … OURSELVES. By the way … you do realize that the best fertilizers have … shall we say … a rich and pungent odor. Yeh, some of the stuff in our lives kinda stinks too, but it sure gets the job done!
But … AND … today is a day to pause … to see what’s right in your world … what’s beautiful about you. All that fertilizer has certainly grown something wonderful. Why did Jenny think Jesus would say “ta – da”? Because kids don’t complicate things so much. There was a big job to do and it was done really well. Congratulations Jesus … you deserve a hand.
As for the people who meant to harm him … they thought he was out of the picture for good. Surprise! TA – DA! He was alive … not just alive, but transformed … into a being of light. And his legacy would change the world.
Well, you know what … you’ve done a great job too. You’ve learned a lot and grown a lot! You’ve learned to love well, and you’ve taken really good care of your loved ones. You’ve accomplished a lot … contributed a lot … served where you could. You’re a shining star … filled with light.
And you too, have been creating a lasting legacy. All the people you’ve loved … or helped … or taught – they are like ripples in a pond … continually taking your touch outward. One touching one, touching another and another. You have no idea what an influence you have had on the world.
So, let’s take the day today to savor our lives so far. Some things haven’t been easy, it’s true … but everything HAS been in perfect order. Only looking back can we see how every single thing fits like colorful thread in a beautiful tapestry. Nothing about your story or mine needs to be rewritten … just rightly understood. Each conversation has been like a grain of sand … thousands of grains of sand mixed together have formed relationships which, like sturdy bricks, have been building your house … your life … moment by moment.
So, how will you celebrate? What would you most love to do with the rest of this beautiful day? Wherever you spend it … I hope you will take a little time to recall some of your stories of triumph and victory. Stories of … challenges met … fears overcome … people loved … risks taken … service rendered … betrayals forgiven … wounds and illnesses healed … creative solutions found. Recall your kindness to strangers, patience with children, hospitable welcome and comforting touch. Imagine how much positive energy has gone out into the world from all the hugs and kisses each one of us has given to someone. Awesome thought isn’t it?
These things are the mosaic, the fabric of your life. Each time something has taken you into the dark tomb, you have risen into the light … more luminous, loving and powerful than ever. This is your resurrection day. So what do you say? OK, stand up. Ready? TA – DA!!
Well done … well done you good and faithful servants. And guess what? The best is yet to come because you are more today than you have ever been. Now there’s another awesome thought! Happy Easter everyone!