The church have begun work on a number of outdoor ways of engaging with people this Lent and Easter. Lent is the season that began the day after pancake day on Ash Wednesday and it involves 40 days of journeying towards Easter. The word Lent comes from the word “lengthen” because Lent happens in spring time when the days get longer. This year, particularly during lockdown and ongoing restrictions, the church plans to create an Easter Garden in our grounds at the side of the church on Sixth Street in Newtongrange. We will be starting with some planting areas for spring flowers this week and are looking for people in the community to join us in building something beautiful that everyone can enjoy when out for their walks in the lighter evenings. As well as a couple on planters we hope to have an Easter scene similar to the one in the photo above and if you would like to contribute flowers, stones or wood or time and ideas, then please drop us an email ir call the church office (details on our contact page).
The Bible is full of references to gardens, plants and vines.
There are four particular gardens mentioned in the Bible. Interestingly each of them are places of peace, but three of them are also places of sadness. However, a Beatrice Hopper explains in her writings, “peace and joy wins out in the stories of these gardens”.
The First Garden
The first Biblical garden is where the story of humanity starts: The Garden of Eden
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground – trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
This was the place where Adam & Eve named the animals and tended to the garden. A place where they met with God. The Bible tell us that the trees were beautiful and I believe that everything else was beautiful too. It was the place where God walked in the cool of the evening. How peaceful it must have seemed. But there was betrayal here. Adam and Eve were betrayed by the serpent and they fell from grace. They were turned out of the garden.
The Garden of Gethsemane
The second important garden described in the Bible is The Garden of Gethsemane. This was a bittersweet place. It became the garden of suffering and betrayal but before that, it was a place that Jesus liked to go to pray. Presumably it was a peaceful place where he could withdraw from the crowds.
Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”
And here it was that Jesus was betrayed by Judas.
The third important Biblical garden is The Garden near Golgotha
Near the place where Jesus was crucified was a garden, and in the garden there was a new tomb where no one had yet been laid to rest. And because the Sabbath was approaching, and the tomb was nearby, that’s where they laid the body of Jesus.
In this garden Jesus was placed in a new, empty tomb. It would have represented such sadness to Jesus’ followers. But it’s here that the great good news of the resurrection was announced to Mary who at first thought Jesus was the gardener John 20:15
It has become a garden of victory.
The Heavenly Garden
Which leads us to our final garden: The Heavenly Garden – the garden of eternal life. Here Eden is restored and we return to the Tree of Life and its healing properties.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, flowing with water clear as crystal, continuously pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb. The river was flowing in the middle of the street of the city, and on either side of the river was the Tree of Life, with its twelve kinds of ripe fruit according to each month of the year. The leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations.
In the first garden, we lost our connection to God. In the second Garden, God is found in the midst of our suffering, whilst in the third garden hope is found in resurrection. The final garden is the place of ultimate victory and overcoming. Fully restored! Every garden represents a different stage of our lives and God is in every garden.
There is HOPE in every Garden!
This week’s prayer:
THE Lord God planted a garden
In the first white days of the world,
And He set there an angel warden
In a garment of light enfurled.
So near to the peace of Heaven,
That the hawk might nest with the wren,
For there in the cool of the even
God walked with the first of men.
And I dream that these garden-closes
With their shade and their sun-flecked sod
And their lilies and bowers of roses,
Were laid by the hand of God.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,–
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
For He broke it for us in a garden
Under the olive-trees
Where the angel of strength was the warden
And the soul of the world found ease.
Dorothy Frances Gurney
This week’s music: