I remember picking flowers one Easter Sunday after a morning worship service. I couldn’t have been more than five or six years old, because we moved from Waxahachie, Texas to Hotchkiss, Colorado when I was in the second grade. My father was the pastor of a small Assembly of God Church in Waxahachie, and he had recently graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. I don’t remember which church it was, and there are several Assembly churches in Waxahachie, the training ground of many of the denominations clergy.
Back to the flowers. The church was on the outskirts of town, and it bordered a large open filed. I’m not sure the church owned the land or not, but I remember a field of wild flowers on this morning. So, like many boys would do, I decided to pick a bouquet of flowers for my mother. The field was full of yellow dandelions, and other assorted colors of wild flowers, or what some people would call weeds. What I remember was that my mother made a big deal about how pretty the flowers I brought her were, and it seems I was immediately more popular with the other women of the church. So, what’s a boy to do. Pick more flowers for more ladies.
One of the mothers asked me if I had ever had dandelion salad. At this time of my life I did not like any kind of salad, so if it was offered I’m sure I did not eat any of it. I remember the women talking about the right way and the wrong way to prepare dandelion greens. I have heard that dandelions are bitter, but I’ve never been served dandelion greens, and I have no idea what they taste like.
I remember Easter was a time when all the women would bring out their Easter Bonnets and fancy Easter hats, and all the families, at least in the churches I grew up in, came to Church on Easter Sunday in their best duds. I didn’t have a big wardrobe as a kid, but I did have school clothes, and those were not my “Sunday go to meeting” clothes. I had special shoes for that too. I had school shoes and church shoes. But, most of the time I went barefoot, except for school and church. Eventually, and I’m not sure when it happened, my mother and most of the other women in the church quit wearing hats. I be some of you ladies can tell me about those days. Maybe you still have some of those hats in your closets.
Here’s a question for you. How many of you have taken a dandelion after it has gone to seed, held it in your hand and blew the seeds off? It’s like a whole bunch of seeds paragliding to the ground. And, some of those seeds will take root and bring more dandelions into the world. Okay, if you don’t care for dandelions choose another wild flower that you prefer. Springtime and Easter have this in common, “new life”. The church is like a garden of the Lord. And, into this garden, both you and I are planted. In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus says these words: “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear new life, but if it dies it will rise again in the shape of a new plant”. (John 12:24)
On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and through our baptism we are raised to new life with Him. We are part of the new seeds all connected to the community of faith, because of Easter. The Apostle Paul sums up this truism this way: “I have been crucified with Christ, never the less I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me”. (Galatians 3:20) Jesus is the seed that dies, yet has risen from the dead, and so we too have died in the waters of baptism and are recognized though Jesus Christ as new plants, called to do our part to plant, nurture, water, and to protect the garden from weeds that rob the plants of their nurture and health. These weeds can come in many different forms. They can come as words of gossip, unhealthy criticism versus encouraging critique, shared in love. Weeds can come in the form of teaching that contradicts the teaching of Scripture, the sacred traditions of the church and reason. To the law and the testimony, In Isaiah we read: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” Isaiah 8:20). And concerning reason the prophet Isaiah also exhorts us with these words: “Come now let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18) Paul instructs Timothy to “pass on those mysteries and traditions (faithful practices) of the faith that he was raised up listening to”. (2 Timothy 4:6)
Our epistle reading this morning is from Colossians, one of my favorite passages. “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is, your life revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory”. (Colossians 3:1-4) This is a joyful proclamation, and an encouraging word. It’s a reminder that we are part of the Christian family.
I have a twin passage to the reading in Colossians taken from the epistle to the Ephesians: “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves, in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”. (Ephesians 5:19) Paul is speaking to us from both the letter to the Church in Colossus and the letter to the Church in Ephesus: “Easter has come. Set your affections on the affections on the things above and not on the things of this old world. And, it helps do set your affections on the things above by “being filled with the spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns and in spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His mercy endures forever”. (Psalm 118:1)
The Reverend Dr. David Madsen