The butterfly has long been a symbol of resurrection and hope, for it disappears into a cocoon and appears dead, but emerges later far more beautiful and powerful than before. The butterfly symbolizes not just Christ’s resurrection from the dead, but the hope of every Christian for resurrection and transformation.
Thus, St. Paul writes:
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
The change of a lowly caterpillar into a glorious butterfly is a sign of the transformation that awaits those in Christ.
During Lent you will find paper butterflies available in the sanctuary and the chapel, on which you can write a prayer expressing your yearning and hope for new life for yourself, for others, for our world. These prayer butterflies will be placed in a “cocoon” during the season of Lent to symbolize that we are saved “in hope” (see Romans 8:22-24).
What we hope and pray for cannot yet be seen, but lies hidden –like the flower in the bulb, the apple tree in the seed, and the butterfly in the cocoon that Natalie Sleeth wrote so beautifully in “Hymn of Promise.” Nevertheless, God is at work in the unseen and hidden moments, the Lenten wilderness times of life, even when we feel that God is absent from us.
On Easter Sunday the butterflies will emerge from the cocoon, taking flight in a beautiful display celebrating the glory of Easter and claiming the promise that God will fulfill our prayers in ways we cannot even imagine –ways that “God alone can see.”