GREAT QUESTIONS OF THE CHURCH
YOU MAY ALWAYS HAVE WANTED TO ASK:
"UHHHH, HOW DO THE ALTAR FLOWERS WORK?"
by The Rev. Scott Fisher
Now, there's a question. Mostly the altar flowers don't work; they just are. That's part of their wisdom and charm. That's one of the lessons they have to teach us. We don't have to work to enjoy God's Grace; we just have to be. (The idea that we have to work our way into God's Grace was condemned by the early Church as one of the major heresies - Pelagianism. "By Grace you are saved", wrote St. Paul, remember? Hence, most Christian spirituality begins by teaching "Quit trying so hard".)
In any case, if you are wondering how the flower "system" works; the answer is really quite easy. We have an arrangement with College Floral. They supply our flowers at minimum cost, $50 a week (or, $25/vase, which is pretty good). Winter or Summer, they come by on Saturday mornings to deliver the fresh flowers and remove the old ones (The Saturday morning Altar Guild usually saves what remaining flowers are still good). So, on Sunday mornings, even in darkest coldest winter, there are fresh flowers. (The only time there are NOT flowers is in the Season of Lent. Things are pretty empty and bare then, to remind us we need to bare our hearts). Church traditions and manners suggest that the Altar flower arrangements NOT be higher than the Cross and, if you watch, you'll see that is the case each Sunday.
The flowers each Sunday are a Gift, an offering each Sunday from a member or members of the congregation. You can find who or what they are in memory of, or in thanksgiving for, by looking at the Sunday bulletin. There, Hilary has usually typed in a sentence that says " To the Glory of God and in memory of....; or in Thanksgiving for..." This is one of the ways People give thanks, and remember folks they love. It is good when the person leading the Prayers of the People includes this in the Prayers.
Hilary knows what to type because there is a big sign up sheet/poster tacked on the bulletin board by the Church Office. All the Sundays of the year are up there and, at different times, people sign up on the sheet. If there's not enough room, they leave a note and then she'll call them later to ask. (Sometimes, more than one person or family signs up, and that's okay too.) Then the person or family later pays for the flowers, either stopping by the Church Office, or putting a check (marked "flowers") or envelope in the offering plate, or mailing it in. Mostly we don't send bills. We're a Church. We trust each other. (Though Vestries may note the difference between Flower expenses and income and worry about it. And then ask rectors to write Newsletter articles).
And so, there the flowers are. Why do we put them up there? Ohhh, to Remind us, even in December, of the Easter Springtime that fills our lives year round; to remind us that even as the Father cares for the lilies and wild flowers of the field, probably He cares for us too. Why do we put the flowers up there? Remember when you were in love and gave flowers to the One you loved? Wellll....
There the flowers are. . . Just quietly sitting next to the Cross, praising God. (They even get mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer D - " and giving voice to every creature under Heaven") What better place for them to be.....or You and I?
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