Vases in the Vestibule

In every New England church there is a vestibule, or antechamber, that bridges the space between the outside of the Meeting House and the inside of the Sanctuary. In the harsh, snowy winters, this space is an important buffer between the cold of outside and the heated warmth inside. In my childhood congregation, this space was also where the greeters, ushers, and bell tollers welcomed members of the congregation as they arrived for services. Imagine if you will, that the hallway that joins this Sanctuary with Bortin Hall was the vestibule but that it is only as big as the space up here on the Chancel. At times it would be crowded with people and I imagine on Flower Communion Sunday, also with vases of flowers.

I have to imagine what the vestibule would look like with the vases of flowers because as I was growing up, we didn’t celebrate the Flower Ceremony as we do now. In fact, very few of our American Unitarian Universalist congregations engaged in this beautiful ritual back then. And yet, today the Unitarians in Prague are celebrating the 95th anniversary of Flower Communion. I give thanks to the Partner Church Council, who in the late 1990s, reintroduced the ceremony to churches in this country.

I will admit, that while it was not a ceremony of my childhood Unitarian Universalist church, the flower communion is one of my favorite services of the year. I love that each of us brings a flower and joins that flower with the those of our fellow worshippers. The bouquet that we create this morning is a flower representation of the beautiful bouquet of people we make every time with gather.

I have the privilege of sitting up here on the chancel regularly, which means that I can easily look out over the congregation and take in the beautiful bouquet that you are. Each Sunday I look out and see our sturdy flowers and frail flowers, our wall flowers and wilting flowers; the flowers that are just blooming and blossoming, the flowers that need a little extra attention and the flowers that quietly fill out the bouquet.

I love that we make room for all the types of flowers that arrive – the easily to identify and the ones we don’t quite yet understand as flowers. We search for the beauty within each flower, bless it for being with us, and hopefully help it to grow and thrive for a time. And just as we make space in our vases to ensure that every flower can be included, we make space in our community to ensure that every person can be included.

The diversity of the flowers is important. It reminds us that each of us is beautiful and important in our uniquness, that we have something special to offer one another. (and if I may – since we all have something special to offer one another, if you are an adult over the age of 26, please consider teaching in our children and youth Religious Education program next fall).

To me, the beauty that comes through the diversity of the flowers in our bouquet (and congregation) is what has given me the courage to be who I am and do what I have done. I could not have come out as transgender 22 years ago, could not have thrived in my ministry and invited you to change with me, had it not been for the foundational message of love and appreciation for diversity that our faith offers us.

Today, as I take my flower from the bouquet I will do so with appreciation of all that we have done together these past three years, of all the ways we have grown and changed – as individuals and as a community.

Taking a flower different from the one we bring reminds us of how we are forever changed by being together for a time. I am grateful to you for changing me and giving me the privilege of witnessing your changing. May the bouquet that is this community continue to unfold in beautiful ways.

Published in: on 4 June 2017 at 20.06  Leave a Comment  

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