Sunday we celebrated the joyous Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Easter is the most holy of all Christian celebrations or holidays. However, I am afraid that for most of us, in the Baptist tradition, we have relegated it to one Sunday of the year; a very important Sunday but nevertheless a one day event. In other more liturgical traditions Easter is celebrated for 50 days beginning with Easter Sunday and ending with Pentecost Sunday (celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit). I am not advocating that we take a more liturgical approach but just “linger” a while in the Easter afterglow.
As I have shared with many of you I grew up in a rural south Alabama church in Conecuh County (Cedar Creek Baptist Church). My mother played piano, taught preschool Sunday School (among many other roles she held through the years) and kept the church furnished with beautiful floral arrangements each Sunday. She had a love for things of beauty and grew roses, lilies, and countless other blossoming allurements. Every Easter that I can recall, she used the Dogwood branches in some fashion to form the basis for a beautiful bouquet. From my early years I remember her sharing with me the story (legend) of the Dogwood Tree. It always seemed, and still does today, the dogwood trees recognize it is Easter no matter if it chronologically falls late March or April.
Sunday morning after worship Evelyn was sharing with our Asian students the story I had been taught as a child regarding the Dogwood blossom. The blossom itself carries the marks of Jesus’ crucifixion. The four large white petals represent the cross He died upon, and at the edges of each petal are notches that look like rusty nail holes tinged with blood. One source I read said as the petals age they often become speckled with blood-like spatters. In the center of each flower you will find a greenish yellow crown of thorns.
Whether the story of the Dogwood Tree is purely legend or not, certainly it can be a great teaching tool to young children and a visual reminder to adults that even creation sings forth God’s praise and especially the Triumphant Resurrection! I Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV) reminds us
Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O grave is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But Thanks be to God!
He gives us the VICTORY through our Lord JESUS CHRIST!