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Flowers, Frida Kahlo, and Faith

By May 27, 2015 One Comment
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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.

burbank

 

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.

 

Jes Kast

The Reverend Jes Kast is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament and serves West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Pastor.

One Comment

  • Victoria Karssen says:

    When my daughter had a baby at 18, she, her daughter and then husband, lived with us for their four years of college. Living 20 years now in the Midwest I have a soulful yearning for fresh moving air and yellow burning sun that becomes frenetic through the winter.

    As soon as it’s not bitter cold, you will find me on the deck, wrapped in robe and blanket, pressing a dreamily billowing cup of coffee between my fingers and into my chest. It is where I ease what little heat is found into that vacuum of space. The heat seems to coax open my soul, drawing in the power of blowing trees, chasing robins, running bunnies, emergent hope, that God has given us, wisp by wisp.

    Just this morning, I sat with tea and coffee with my grandchildren, Elena, who first joined me out on that deck eight years ago, and Noah, now three.

    We laughed as Noah tried imitating a loud rapping bird call. We played ‘I spy…’ And Noah repeatedly used ‘yellow’ — the color of his shirt, until we all guffawed.

    Just before coming inside and reading your post, I had offered one last word to Elena. I asked if she remembered sitting out on the deck with me when she was tiny, bundled in blankets on my lap.

    Then I planted another seed I hope she always holds to… …that it is a gift ‘to your soul and heart and head to sit outside and just listen’. I reminded her God gave us ‘first Himself’, then each other, and this beautiful, soul-healing greatness.

    I asked her to remember this as she grows, and to remember to be outside when she can, to just — …listen…

    The flowers you find in art, in rounds of flowers, they speak of such greatness.

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