‘He browses among the lilies’ Song of Songs 6v3
“See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6v28-30
Consider the lilies… fragrant, delicate, beautiful, simple, pure, white flowers. I wonder if the lilies Jesus was pointing at when he said it looked anything like the ones we buy in Tesco… 🙂 And have you noticed, you do see beautiful, white, long-stemmed flowers on a lot of old paintings of Jesus’ mother, Mary? Probably any Catholic could tell you lilies are ‘Mary’s flower’, probably chosen to represent her purity and grace. When Gabriel appears to tell her she will have a son, there are usually some lilies there as well, in the corner.
‘Annunciation! I announce to you the arrival of an unexpected gift! A fragrance is coming to the world, a precious and delicate bundle of life will lie in your arms – even though you are morally and sexually pure (perhaps because you are morally and sexually pure…) you will be the mother of the Saviour of the world’.
Consider the lilies. They are a sign of God’s generous provision, His gracious ability to give attention to every detail – but also a sign of transience and death. Written into the annunciation was the message of Jesus’ coming sacrifice, the sword through Mary’s heart as well as His. Implicit in God becoming human was the taking on of mortality, the certainty of the end in sight. ‘God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire…’ and though Jesus was making the point that we are far more valuable than that, it still remains true that ‘all men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows upon them. Surely the people are grass.” Isaiah 40v6-7
Consider the lilies: here today, gone tomorrow. Yet while they are here, touched with grace and glory. Jesus knew how to walk that out; He lived with the fact of His coming death for all of His short life, felt our weakness and weariness, fell asleep in the boat, shared in the temptations that are common to man. That is a big thing for God to do – so big some people couldn’t and can’t believe it possible! Yet this is our Saviour, human and divine, holding the tension between joy and sorrow, beauty and ashes, suffering and glory, life and death – just as we have to.
Consider the lilies – the beauty of creation, the provision of Father, the transience of what is seen, the nature of time. “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality” 1 Corinthians 15v53
Be it unto me according to your word.