Welcome to Revd Sue's Message Page.

Dear Friends,

Within the last week I was fortunate enough to be given a Madonna Lily by one of our parishioners when I told her that I did not have one in our garden. This young plant is now being carefully nurtured so that it comes into flower and I can enjoy its ‘heavenly host of shining white trumpets.’ The Madonna lily, I am told by Mark Griffiths writing in the Country Life magazine, is an ‘icon among lilies’ due to its place in Christian art symbolising the Virgin Mary. In famous paintings of the Annunciation, often Mary is offered a stem of this lily by the angel Gabriel as he appears with the news that Mary will be mother to the Son of God. To Christians through the ages the lily has been a symbol of chastity, innocence and purity and parts of the lily hold particular symbolic significance: the stem representing Mary’s religiously faithful mind, petals purity, the scent, Mary’s connection with divinity and the leaves, Mary’s humility. When I look at such a flower probably I won’t remember all of this symbolism but I know that I will greatly enjoy the beauty of such a graceful flower and its glorious scent and all of that will make me appreciate it and God who made it.

Other plants, at various times in the past, have also been given religious symbolism. For example in the middle ages there were often rose gardens in monasteries and the monks would tend these roses. A red rose represented martyrs, the 5 petals of a rose signified the wounds of Christ and this lead to rose windows being included in cathedrals, where they had 5 or multiples of 5 segments in the window. The internet tells me that the daisy represents the innocence of the Christ-child, ivy, eternal life, columbine, the Holy Spirit and the dandelion, Christ’s passion. I could go on, I’m sure researching many more flowers and finding different symbolism and significance and I find this is interesting, particularly to learn how or why these ideas evolved, but I am unlikely to remember the significance. I think the most I can manage is ‘rosemary for remembrance’ a symbol we used quite often in the hospice.

There are many things that we have in church or use in our religion that are symbols - things that remind us of or point us towards something else: the Easter candle reminds us of Jesus, the Light of the World and that Jesus moved from the darkness of death on Good Friday to the light of new life of the resurrection on Easter Day. Sometimes we light a candle in school assemblies to remind us and the children that although we cannot see God he is still with us. It’s not that we worship candles per se, we use them because they can act as a help or a reminder and that is just the same with the things that clergy wear or do in church services - they can help some of us, but for other people this is not necessary.

For some people when they look at a Madonna lily they will immediately think of Mary, the mother of Jesus; for others of us it will simply be a wonderful flower that we can enjoy and perhaps for us Christians it can also remind us of God who makes the whole of creation and along with this we can take a moment or two to say thank you to God for the amazing beauty of a garden in spring and summer. Whatever you think about when you see beautiful flowers I hope that you can enjoy and appreciate them and for at least a moment they can make you pleased that you saw them. For all those keen gardeners out there, enjoy everything that you grow as well as the joy of planting and tending. We truly are part of a beautiful world, and I am thankful for that. It’s also good to remember that Jesus said ‘consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you…’(Luke 12 27-38)

Revd Sue.