The Gospel in a Garden
It’s a glorious day. The sun is shining, insects dance, birds sing, fruit trees are clad in blossom; the garden looks and sounds gloriously alive after the winter rest. Yet for all the signs that summer is on the way, step out from behind glass and there remains a keen nip in the air. Spring has barely begun; summer is coming, but not just yet. Now, though, is a moment to savour; a moment of peace in our present troubles.
Last Sunday we celebrated Easter Day, the Day of Resurrection. Jesus is alive, death is defeated but with the pandemic in full flow and looking anything but defeated, what about us, how alive are we? What next? Where do we go from here?
Looking back over 2000 years it would be tempting to think that Jesus’ resurrection instantly solved everything. One minute the disciples were frightened and defeated, the next loudly proclaiming the resurrection. It’s a tempting thought, but not true. Reading the gospel accounts, it is clear that after their initial joy at meeting the risen Jesus’, his disciples struggled to get their minds around what was going on. Read Acts and we see that those struggles continued as the Holy Spirit led them into new experiences.
The gospels show how Jesus had trusted his father to lead him through the ordeal that was his arrest, trial and execution, then bring him to new life beyond that experience. In the same way, in Acts we see that experiencing his resurrection, gave the disciples the strength and confidence to trust him in the darkest moments; and to enjoy the light and love of his presence. But it all took time.
This is heavy stuff so, pondering what to say this week, I left my desk and headed to the garden for inspiration. Gardening, we are told, is good for our mental wellbeing and the garden is more than just medicine. The psalmist tells us that ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is therein’ (Ps 24:1), and again that ‘all the earth shall worship him’ (Ps 66:3). As I walked around the garden, watched and listened I found the Good News all around. Where not long before winter still held sway, now I see resurrection; new life, new beauty new hope. Summer will come again.