Flower-arranging is one of the quintessentially traditional arts associated with the church. Up and down the country armies of people are involved in making our buildings look beautiful, especially at festival times. Some churches are discovering that it can be an opportunity for mission, as newcomers join and find friendship and purpose. Jenny Lewin from St. Matthew’s, Wigmore, South Gillingham, explains how this creative ministry can provide a richness to worship and how it became a focus for a harvest reflection in her local church.
“We are a group of thirteen ladies in four teams of three and four. None of us are professional. We have learned flowering arranging either at evening classes or volunteering in church. On special occasions, we all get together to decide the theme and colours for the event. Everyone is keen to make sure that St Matthew’s looks lovely.
For Harvest this year we asked our Rector, Brian, for a particular focus. We had been reading about Dorcas in the book of Acts, and we were spurred on by how she was always doing good and helping the poor. Together we agreed to focus on the the difference between the rich and the poor. St. Matthew’s regularly gives to the local food bank and we wanted to illustrate through our creativity the gulf between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have not’s’. Hence through flowers, the ladies came up with their own interpretation of the theme.”
Flower arrangements in church are not the usual medium to convey issues of social justice, but the group at St. Matthew’s have done just that by depicting the luxury goods that many of us enjoy at the top of the arrangement and the meagre rations of someone living on the streets at the bottom. The sleeping bag, cardboard boxes and shopping trolley were there to depict the experience of homelessness.
In the porch there was a display of global inequalities, featuring a lush display of food that is available in places of plenty, next to the signs of drought and famine that affects many other areas of the world. This theme of disparity was brought closer to home by a couple of arrangements featuring donations to the food bank and another one, showing a generous, well-filled hamper.
The harvest arrangements at St. Matthew’s provided a visual meditation for reflection on God’s abundant provision and local and global inequalities. They showed that flower arranging does not just have to be a ministry about making a church look pretty; with a creative and sharp focus, you really can say it with flowers.