Easter is the central and highest feast of the entire church year. The festival follows forty days of solemnity and repentance as we are reminded of our sin and reason for our Savior. The Church of God is ready to rejoice in the empty tomb of Easter. The Easter victory cry “Christ is risen” calls for the greatest expression of adoration and joy, not only in preaching, but also in music, even flowers. Having a large number of flowers can create the effect of the Church shouting “Alleluia!”
Of all the flowers, why the use of the Easter lily? Probably, the best reason I can think of is that white is the color of purity and joy.
Some traditions are interesting, but not worth spending too much time on. White lilies supposedly sprung up where Christ’s sweat fell to the ground while praying in Gethsemane. In some paintings, the angel Gabriel extends to Mary a branch of pure white lilies, in others, the saints are pictured as bringing vases full of lilies to Mary and baby Jesus. Joseph is seen holding a lily branch in his hand because he knew Mary was indeed a virgin.
Like other flowers, the lily’s roots are buried in the dirt and darkness. The lily rises above the darkness and dirt to bloom beautifully and proudly. Nothing is pretty about Good Friday. Illegal trials. Injusticie. The Son of God suspended between heaven and earth, rejected by mankind, whom he came to save and forsaken by his Father, who punishes his Son in our place.
But three days later all is right and well between God and man as Jesus rises from the dead. Victory over sin, death, Satan and hell have been won! It was an ugly battle. The roots of our salvation are buried deep beneath the humiliation of pain and judgment, but Jesus rises above it all and in his life we live
Another reason the lily is chosen, according to one of my books on Christian symbolism, might be simply that it blooms at this time of year.
Jesus lives! The victory’s won!
Pastor Martin Luchterhand