Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion April 11, 2018

When you think of Easter you think of a lot of things.  Of course there is the religious/church thoughts - the things we should think about but we have to admit that also comes to mind things like Easter Egg hunts and Easter bonnets (does anyone still do Easter bonnets?) and bunnies and cute little yellow chicks.  Of course here we go with the “I remember when” thoughts that seem to be pretty prevalent to me any more…. but I remember when I was a little girl and each Easter meant a new dress, a new hat, pretty white shoes and those cute little kid gloves.  
For some reason I remember us little girls standing in a circle on Easter Sunday morning comparing our shoes… we were mainly concerned about how high our heels were because back ‘in those days’ little girls wearing any type of heel at all on her shoe was a major deal and a teeny tiny little heel on your Sunday Shoes marked a major milestone in your life. 
Prepare yourself for  another majorly trite saying:  “My how times have changed!”
Now I realize that we probably have a much better perspective on Easter now-a-days since we don’t stress over the new Easter dress or the Easter bonnet but there are some very fond memories of Easter with the dressing up and the Easter dinners of ham and scalloped potatoes (we had steak this year for Easter dinner throwing all the major traditions out the door!)
However having been in three different churches over the course of this Easter season I noticed one staple that still remains as an Easter necessity - and that is the Easter Lily.   Easter Lilys everywhere.  
Now Easter Lilys are very pretty and we have even assigned ‘Easter meaning’ to these flowers that have come to symbolize this season - mainly because they bloom during Easter and they are pretty and they have parts we can say symbolize the things we understand about Easter.  And I admit to using this symbolism over the course of my church leadership life in educational settings to help explain various aspects of our understandings of the events of Easter!
However, Easter Lilys are not my friend. While they are very pretty and they come out at Easter and they can be very useful as Easter illustrations, Easter Lilys have this pervasive scent that can reduce any Easter Lily sensitive adult to a sniveling pile of runny noses and coughs and even a feeling of become a little overcome with wooziness. 
That would be me.
There was a traumatic event that happened in my life that caused me great consternation and I realized way too late that the culprit was the presence of Easter Lilys!  
This was during the days when I was serving a three church parish and it was Easter Sunday morning and I was, with the help of my youngest daughter, flitting between churches leading worship and of course since it was Easter there were extra services so the morning was quite busy and quite rushed and quite filled with Easter Lilys. 
Somewhere along the trip I did realize I was beginning to get a headache and I did realize that my nose was beginning to run and I did realize that I was sneezing a little more often than normal and I did realize there there was this tickly cough rearing its ugly head and but I was really too busy to pay much attention other than to secure some tissues to prevent any embarrassing moments and I continued on my overly involved Easter Sunday worship leading.
Finally I reached the final stop on my Easter Sunday world tour (just like a rock band!) and I walked into the church and there were what looked like a thousand Easter Lilys.  Now I realize that might be a slight exaggeration but not by much.  It was a small church and on every surface there was an Easter Lily including four covering the sides of the pulpit.  I admit when you first walked into the sanctuary it was quite beautiful and there was a special moment of thinking of this special morning in the life of the church but it was a chilly morning and the doors and windows of the church were closed and of course the smell of these Easter Lilys had invaded every nook and cranny and to someone who had already been sensitized by Easter Lilys from previous stops along the tour route this was quite the overwhelming experience….
But as the trooper I was I figured that I could muscle my way through one more hour of Easter Praise and Easter Lily aroma…. But no!
About half way through the service, in one of my talking moments as I was pontificating on the Easter experience and what it means for us in the modern day, I began to feel a little strange and before to long I realized that if I didn’t stop and sit down there was going to be a prone preacher on the floor not able to continue pontificating.  
Now one thing you learn after many years in the pulpit is adapting to the circumstances…. So fortunately we had planned as part of the worship service to walk outside during the passing of the peace and flower the cross and now seemed like a really good time to do that even if it was out of place and I believe I actually admitted to the fact that I was fading fast and going outside seemed like a really good idea!
So out everyone went, I sat down, drank what seemed like a gallon of water, popped a couple “Halls” (you know those great lozenges which are suppose to help in situations such as this) and by the time everyone got back inside I was able to finish out the service and as I was leaving with my daughter driving (I lived 90 minutes from the church so getting home woozy was an issue and my daughter had her learners permit and so she gleefully accepted the driving task) and said a Thankful prayer that I had made it through the great Easter Lily escapade almost unscathed….
Since then I have learned about Easter Lilys.  And one of the critical bits of information I learned was that Easter Lilys are one of the most potent of allergy producing flowers to people who are sensitive to the Easter Lily pollen.  I also learned that if you remove the little yellow stems inside the flower you remove the allergy producing portion of the flower and those who are Easter Lily sensitive like me can actually co-exist in the same space with the Easter Lily without getting all woozy and runny nosey and sneezy!
So when Easter comes and the Easter Lilys arrive, I don my face mask and my rubber gloves and I stealthily enter the sanctuary with my scissors and zip loc baggie and like a thief in the night I snip out the troublesome parts of the Easter Lilys and I even gently wipe off the remaining yellow residue in order to render the Easter Lilys safe for Easter Sunday morning!
And I am hoping that everyone is so enthralled with the service and my pontificating that they will not even notice the act of terrorism perpetrated on the runny nose, coughing, sneezing, whoozing production of the Easter Lily.
But you know, we have to be careful about doing the same act with the word of God.  It is so tempting to go in and sanitize God’s word by removing those parts we don’t like.  It is so tempting to go in and ignore the words of scripture that make us uncomfortable or rub against our sensibilities or let’s face it - give us a headache because it stretches where we are comfortable or ways ‘we always thought…’.  
God’s word has to stand on itself and has to be taken with all the parts - the parts we like, the parts we don’t like, the parts that offend us, the parts that give us hard work to do, and of course the parts that give us peace and comfort and those parts we agree with cause we like those parts - 
So go and clip those Easter Lilys so we can gather and enjoy (and in my case survive) Easter morning, but the word of God has to stay intact!