“Say it with flowers!” I’m sure florists all over the land have been inundated during the last few days with orders for bouquets, sprays, and posies.
Today, of course, is Mothering Sunday, and what symbolises the love we feel today, and the joy we feel today, than the beautiful gift of a flower….and particularly that of a rose…
“Enough the rose was heaven to smell” – that’s a fine line….
…yes, there is something special, beautiful, almost heavenly about a rose.
It is a thing of beauty; a thing of joy. Roses and rejoicing go well together.
The Prophet Isaiah when talking of the future glory of Zion writes:
The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose
He seems to link the rejoicing of the people with the blossoming of the rose.
The rose – it symbolises fertility, joy, success – it is something to be prized.
It’s not new, however, this giving of a rose to a worthy recipient at this time of year, you know
On the fourth Sunday in Lent, a Golden Rose, an ornament was given by the Roman Catholic Church to worthy women as well as men as a mark of special favour – rather like the Oscars of their day.
It’s said that the tradition dates back a long way to the time of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, when, supposedly, a bud or flower sprouted on Joseph’s staff or rod – an indication that he was the man Mary should become engaged to & a fulfilment of the prophesy:
There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him
Somewhere along the line, this tale got less concerned with the birth of the Saviour and more with his mother. Artists in the Middle Ages liked to depict the happy couple, Mary & Joseph, together at the scene of their betrothal – rod, bud, flower and all. And a caption was often to be found beneath the picture: “She is the flower, she is the rose” referring, of course, to Mary
The Rose….in her were the virtues of the rose – sensitivity, beauty, serenity.
Think of her life – a life of love, a life of piety
Think on these early years – told that she had been chosen to give birth to God’s own son;
then the journey to Bethlehem;
and the flight to Egypt –
– all done calmly, faithfully – for the love of God and of her child.
Then think of all the times when Jesus did or said things that she couldn’t comprehend – and on occasion said things that must have hurt her very much
But the love was still there in Mary’s heart
The whole Jesus-story must have seemed like a ghastly riddle to which there was no clue. But she accepted it all – in love, in faith.
A mother’s love never dies. It goes on even to the point of death, even when the crowds and the laughter and the support of the people are gone. There she stands at the foot of the Cross, love still blossoming in her heart.
We learn a lot about love from our mothers. Jesus would learn about love – not only through our Heavenly Father’s Spirit – but also at his mother’s knee From Mary the Rose – Jesus was much indebted…perhaps more than we would credit him for.
And his too was a love that never died just as Mary’s before him. Love does indeed conquer all. Love never gives up.
Let me finish with two different pieces of verse.
The first a stanza from a song which was in a movie called ‘The Rose’ It’s talking about love of a different kind, but we may use it for our own purposes here:
“When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long;
When you think that love is only
For the lucky and for the strong –
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose”
And this – a 16th Century carol:
Lo, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesus’ lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came a flower-et bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night
The Rose Love It may seemed buried and dead But the seed is always there, ready to burst forth in blossom, in all its glory. And after every Good Friday comes Easter morn.