Why Lilies on Easter Sunday?

Google “Why lilies on Easter Sunday?” and you get quite the variety of answers. Here’s an interesting list.

  • It was Jesus’ favorite flower. Likely due to his routine of picking up a handful at the local flower shop on the way to someone’s home for dinner. And, Jesus said, “Here, Martha, I thought you might like these for your table. They’re my favorites.” I’m pretty sure I read that in the red letters.
  • They grew in the Garden of Eden from Eve’s anguished tears after she sinned. I guess that answers when Eve sinned, it must have been springtime. Though wasn’t it always springtime in the garden? Oh, the questions that keep one up at night. 
  • Also, did you know that the archangel Gabriel gave a cluster of white lilies to Mary to announce the soon arrival of Christ and honor her in the role as the virgin mother? At least Da Vinci considered the possibility, so he painted it in his famous painting The Annunciation. Who knows? Maybe Gabriel shopped at the same florist as Jesus.
  • Jesus mentioned the lilies of the field (not Easter lilies) in his sermon on the mount. Matthew 6:28-30 “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith.” Three wonderful verses! Though, I don’t see an Easter connection. Do you?

However, if you own a cat, you most definitely want to “consider the lilies of the field.” Evidently the entire lily is toxic to cats.

What about the origin of the Easter lily?

The Easter lily symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the hope of new life that Easter represents. It is also a symbol of purity, innocence, and the beauty of spring. But, like Easter itself, the celebration began as a pagan festival. The Easter lily was associated with motherhood and the beginning of spring. The flower often gifted to mothers as a symbol of gratitude. Perhaps why some churches ask congregants to purchase an Easter lily in honor of a loved one alive or deceased.

When Christianity began to sweep across Europe, the Christian faith adapted certain pagan festivals and traditions. “It’s thought that Easter lilies came to symbolize Christ not only because they embody purity—the trumpet-shaped blooms recall the horns that heralded the resurrection of Christ. And the life cycle of Easter lilies, which grow from a bulb for several years beneath the earth before blossoming into magnificent flowers, recalls Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

I can certainly envision the angelic host in heaven blowing trumpets at the resurrection of Christ, but no trumpets sounded on earth. We will hear the trumpet blow when Christ returns for his elect after the tribulation. “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

So, I keep a trumpet shaped Easter lily in my mind as a reminder of that glorious day to come!

What else do Easter lilies mean to me?

When I sit in church on Easter Sunday, staring at the beautiful white lilies, several thoughts might come to my mind.

The white flower reminding me of how the resurrection of our Savior makes those who trust in him as white as snow. The sin that once darkened my life, separating me from a relationship with Christ, now removed forever.

His ongoing forgiveness for my present and future sins also covered.

My thoughts could drift towards a “white” dove symbolic of the Holy Spirit—his living presence—in me.

As mentioned above, it takes up to three years to produce a commercial bulb. A fact that sends me directly to the words of Christ himself. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again” (Luke 24:7 Emphasis mine). Words that register in my mind now, but ones, like the disciples, I would not have understood then.

I might even consider the vibrant, contrasting yellow stamen. The part of the flower that produces a messy, staining pollen. Learned that the hard way once, after placing a bouquet of lilies on a white piece of furniture. Some florists will remove the stamen to eliminate this staining nuisance. However, the stamen also reminds me of my once very messy life and the stain of my sin, again now resolved in the cross and through the power of the resurrection.

Finally, Easter lilies, because of their pollen and powerful scent, can overwhelm my allergies. Therefore, while I may sneeze, I’m likely thinking of how grateful I am that Jesus Christ is alive!

Yes, I could think of these Easter lily, Easter Sunday connections, if I let my thoughts drift. Of course, that never happens! 

Happy Easter!

10 thoughts on “Why Lilies on Easter Sunday?”

  1. Thanks Nancy for the inspirational thoughts you’ve written about the Easter Lily. Food for thought!

  2. Ah, well written. I hear your voice as I read and I smile at your humor.
    Thank you for sharing this with me on Easter Sunday. I was finally able to read it on Easter Monday and it has been a lovely read to begin my morning.

  3. Thanks, Kari Jane! It was an enjoyable blog to write. Fun, yet hopefully meaningful. Glad it kicked started your Monday on a good note! Nancy

  4. Here we are in Bergen, Norway and we’ve been on the go since March 28. Visiting old fortresses, buildings, churches, museums and the stuff travels are made of. Today it snowed all day so we spent the late afternoon reading and staying warm. I loved reading your blog on Easter lilies. I usually find I can glean some spiritual message out of lots of things, crazy as they may be. And your connections were great. All that white lily can mean in my life (white as snow, announces spring, new things with Jesus, etc) and the stain of the stamen. When I receive a bouquet I always snip them out. Now I will stop and reflect on the stain= my sin reminder of what Christ died for.

  5. Hello Kristi, Thank you for taking the time to read the Easter lilies blog even while you traveled! Hopefully, you saw some of our daughter’s amazing photos and drone footage of when they traveled to Norway last year. What a beautiful part of the world! Have a wonderful time! Nancy

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