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‘Flowering of the cross’ to mark Easter service
Cedar Rapids First Presbyterian embraces folklore tradition
Mar. 25, 2023 6:00 am
CEDAR RAPIDS — Members of First Presbyterian Church will be taking part in the church’s second “flowering of the cross” during the Easter Sunday morning service.
During that portion of the worship service, members walk to the front of the church and place flowers on a rugged, wooden cross. The 7-foot cross, made years ago by the church’s facilities supervisor, the late Eric Stark, is loosely wrapped in grapevines, providing places to tuck the flowers.
In the Christian faith, the cross symbolizes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. The flowering of the cross symbolizes his resurrection three days later. The folk tradition, by some accounts, dates to the sixth century.
Suzanne and Minor Barnes of Cedar Rapids witnessed the flowering of the cross 20 years ago when they lived and attended services in South Carolina. Suzanne Barnes, a longtime member of the Cedar Rapids Garden Club, brought the idea back to Iowa when she and Minor moved back to their native state.
Last year, Barnes suggested First Presbyterian incorporate the idea into its Easter Sunday service. Pastor Heather Hayes loved the idea and formed a committee to think it through.
First Presbyterian parishioners brought flowers with them to the Easter service last year, and Barnes brought two small buckets of flowers to give to members who needed one.
Also before the service, Barnes placed six large, silk sunflowers on the cross, noting the bright yellow blossom is Ukraine’s national flower. The sunflowers will be there again this year.
“People loved the flowering and appreciated it,” Barnes said. “And after the service, people lingered and took family pictures and selfies in front of the cross.”
It’s an idea she’d like to see other churches adopt.
“The idea was a surprising success,” Barnes said. “First Presbyterian will be doing it again. Try it — you will like it. It’s quite moving to see and to take part in, a way to move from the sacrifice of Good Friday to the joy of Easter.”