April 9, 2012

Flowering the Cross

One of the delights in being new is experiencing a church’s long-held tradition for the first time.

On Easter Sunday, a day full of tradition and pomp, I was moved by our new church’s custom of “flowering the cross.”

As the hand bells rang out, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” the choir and priests processed. They were followed by a trail of children, bedecked in ruffled dresses, spiral-curled ringlets, and cock-eyed clip-on ties. Each child held a flower or two – roses, lilies, chrysanthemums, carnations, even bird-of-paradise. At the chancel steps stood a thick, wooden cross with holes drilled on the front. 

One by one, the children stuck their flowers into the cross, transforming the barren, white wood into a meadow of flowers. It was a striking way to reflect upon the resurrection, a symbol of the new life that we celebrate with Easter Sunday. 

I couldn’t find much information on the history of this custom. My online investigation yielded a few mentions of churches across the country celebrating the “flowering of the cross.” I’m helpful more will begin the tradition. And if a Vital Practices reader knows more about the history of this tradition, please share! 

The flowering of the cross was a wonderful for me that even on a day full of long-held traditions, there’s always a new way, a new insight into the glory of the risen Christ. 

Happy Easter!