Their Introduction into America has Spread Perfume and Beauty Everywhere.
THE LESSON—That, like the lily, Christ gave up His life that His followers should multiply in the earth.
It is difficult, as teachers of children are aware, to impart the significance of Easter to those who are too young to be acquainted with death and the hope of a resurrection. Many teachers find it best to confine the thought to the phenomena of nature as revealed in plant life and to make such applications to the spiritual as conditions seem to permit. Easter is the most precious day of the year, for without it there would be no Christmas, because Christmas is celebrated only as the birthday of Him who arose from the dead. Without it, the world would be in the darkness of despair and disappointment which possessed the disciples as they turned from the cross to resume their former occupations or to hide themselves from the taunts of their tormentors. Hence, we must make the best possible use of it. This illustration possesses no new thought; in fact, there is nothing new except as we put into it the newness of our own enthusiasm and earnestness.
"On this beautiful Easter morning I want to tell you of a lady who has done a good deal to help us enjoy this day. But for her, I believe, we would not have had any of these lovely lilies which represent the purity of the life of the risen Savior. I do not know the name of this lady. But I do know that one day she stepped from a steamer at a wharf in her home city of Philadelphia, and that she had been on a visit to the Bermuda Islands, which are six hundred miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps you know that the Bermuda Islands are noted as the place where they raise very large onions, which are imported to the United States. An onion, you know, is a bulb. Well, this lady carried with her two bulbs. They weren't Bermuda onions, either, as they were too small for that. She took these two bulbs to a friend who was a florist and asked him to plant them. [Draw the bulb in black. Fig. 31.] This was in the year 1875. The bulbs soon sent up strong green shoots and after a while blossomed as beautifully in their strange surroundings as they would have done in their former home. [Complete the drawing of the lily stalk in green; also the lilies, using fine black lines as outlines.] To us these beautiful flowers seem like old friends, because we have known them so long, but these Easter lilies, blossoming in Philadelphia, were the first to spread their sweet perfume in this country.
"Before that time, there was a lily known as the Easter lily, but whose right name is the lilium candidum or Madonna lily. This latter name comes from the fact that in one of the paintings of the Madonna she holds one of these lilies in her hand. It, also, is pure white, and similar in form to the Easter lily of today except that it is more bell-shaped.
"During the first four years, these two bulbs in Philadelphia produced one hundred new bulbs. But what had become of the original bulbs? Ah, don't you know that when the bulb produces new bulbs the original bulb dies? Yes, when the new bulbs form at the sides of the old bulb, the one which gave them life perishes—in fact, the first bulb gives up its life that the others may live. [Draw the outer bulbs as in Fig. 32.] And while it does so, it spreads the perfume and the beauty of its flowers to delight everyone who sees them.
"From these first bulbs brought to America has come much of the beauty which is now so widespread at Easter time. The earth is full of the perfume of the Easter lily today.
"How typical is this little illustration of the Savior whose resurrection we celebrate today. While He was on the earth, the beauty of his life brightened everyone, and all that time He knew that He must give up his life that we might live.
"How typical also of our lives may this Easter lily be. What seems more lifeless than the bulb of a lily? Plant it, bury it, and lo! it is resurrected into a thing of wondrous beauty. That which seemed like its tomb has proven to be the gateway into true life. Thus our faith gives us the blessed assurance, with Paul, that 'if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.'"
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