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I never really understood why my church had flowers on the chancel growing up. Each week a name, or a family, was listed in the bulletin “The flowers are in glory to God by ______ today.” I didn’t understand what they had to do with the Scripture story and I didn’t get why the flowers had such a prominent focus in our sanctuary. I value beauty and I value the natural world, but it felt like I was missing why flowers were so important in worship. Everything else had a theological meaning, but it felt like the flowers were a second, or third, thought to our worshipful time together.
In the last year I have come to value the theology behind flowers in worship. Like many churches, we at West End Collegiate Church have flowers at the front and center of the sanctuary. The flowers sit between my colleague and me who lead worship each week. They are big and bold and filled with creativity.
The flower arrangers have taken on the mantel of Christian Education through their arrangements. This past Sunday the flower arranger studied the Acts 2 Pentecost passage. She then creatively retold the story of the tongues of fire and the Holy Spirit alive in the people of God in the floral arrangement. I was aware that as I was preaching the Word the flowers were also communicating the same Word that I was giving. This reminded me of my favorite artist, Frida Kahlo’s painting of the botanist Luther Burbank and the hybridity of the body and soil.
The hybridity of preaching the Word and the creative floral arrangements (that were also preaching the Word) inspired me. Everything communicates a theology. Where we place our flowers and how we talk about flowers in our different house of worship. Theology lives in more than just our words.
That spaces of worship would have the intention and creativity that our floral arrangers bring to our time of prayer is my hope for any church. Beauty and good theology can help each other out in telling the stories about a life of faith in Christ.