Lilies And Burial Spices

Saturday, April 7, 2007
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Luke 23:55-56 – The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (NIV)

As we entered the church, the sign read, "Please no perfume. Respect those with allergies."

I am one such sufferer. Perfume chokes me up and makes my eyes weep as if I were peeling an onion. It is very embarrassing, for I am not crying, though on Good Friday, I often feel close to tears. If incense is burning, I have to leave.

It was the women's job to prepare the body for burial. What a sad task! They all had such high hopes of this man's leadership. Now here they were, mourning His death. One of the spices used by the women to prepare the Lord's body for burial was myrrh, also given to our Lord at His birth. In our protected, refined, sanitized society, few of us women have ever had to do this task, leaving it to the local funeral home. Our sisters in developing nations could show us how, and perhaps also show us how to weep, for all too often, our tears are stifled by fears of appearing weak or too emotional.

The last few days before a funeral can be excruciating. The inner pain and feelings of loss, and, yes, sometimes of anger, can swamp our best intentions. Activity gives us some release from the anguished thinking. We busy ourselves with preparations, but it is impossible to think about the future; time stands still.

Three days! Symbolic days — moving us from despair to amazed hope. There is life after death. There is peace in the struggle to cope. There is hope that life does go on with grace. We can sense it coming, even through the sadness, for we have faith in our risen Lord. Let's get the preparations done and breathe in the Easter lily scent! In Bermuda, where I grew up, the churches at Easter are absolutely banked with layer upon layer of Easter lilies. I can still smell that wonderful perfume.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, we join the women, taking the spices. There something amazing awaits us. Can we really believe? Can we change from grief to joy? Yes, Lord, we believe!

Prayer: Father God, regardless of what others say about Your Son, Jesus, we know in our hearts that He lives, for we have experienced His presence with us. His Spirit in us is our guarantee that we too will live with You. So in Your love, Lord, ease our inner aching, as we breathe in the scent of heaven and rejoice each day with renewed hope and faith. Amen.

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Iris Ford

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