‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains that and nothing more…’ (Mark 15:46)
Bible Reflection : John 20:1-18
In John’s account of the Resurrection story we have this wonderful image of Mary Magadalene, distraught at the thought that Jesus body had been taken, suddenly turning round and almost bumping into Jesus himself. But not realising who he is she mistakenly believes that he is a gardener. We then have this almost surreal conversation between the two as Mary pleads to be told where Jesus body is. Until Jesus simply says her name in that special way that close friends do, ‘Mary’, and she replies with all the love and devotion that you might expect ‘Rabboni’. What a wonderful encounter that must have been for Mary. But I wonder when we read this account in John’s Gospel what our first thoughts are in respect of Mary thinking that Jesus is a gardener.
Over the years I have spoken to many people who would freely admit that whilst they enjoy the sharing in Christian fellowship of others when they come to Church, the place and time that they really felt closest to God was when they were on their own in the garden. At this time of course with all the restrictions that are in place, when we find ourselves unable to go anywhere, many of us might be spending even more time in our gardens and maybe while we are there we might find ourselves drawing close to God in new ways, reflecting on His love and acknowledging how much we need Him in our lives.
There is no doubt that for many there is just something about being in the garden where they encounter God in a special way in their lives. Yet perhaps that isn’t all that unusual for it is in our gardens that we find our own small snapshot of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Even if we are not keen gardeners, we surely cannot help but marvel at the vibrant explosion of life that comes into our gardens, especially so at this time of year. And it is here that we begin to come to the heart of it all.
It was of course in the Garden of Eden that humanity first entered into the story of creation, so again it is perhaps, only natural that we should be able to find such a peace and such a closeness to our maker in these kind of surroundings. And in some strange way it is perhaps rather fitting that Mary Magdalene should think of Jesus as a gardener on that Resurrection morning and that the surrounding scene should in some way resemble a garden at all.
As Jesus rose from the tomb on that Easter morning we saw the dawn of a new order of creation for all of humanity. Not the old Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve walking in the presence of God before they were tempted and tricked into sin by the serpent. But a new garden created and cultivated by Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who also faced temptation but who did not succumb, thus defeating sin and death once and for all. With the Resurrection of Jesus, what God had done on this glorious Easter Morning, was to effectively start afresh – creation was beginning all over again in His Son. And that’s why the story of the resurrection is such a powerful force in our world today…
There is nothing within our existence as human beings that is not affected or impacted upon by the Resurrection of Christ. Everything within our whole way of life is brought within the sphere of this new creation we are offered in Christ. Through Him we catch a glimpse of the final creation of the new heaven and earth, where once again we shall live in the presence of the living God. In the meantime, because of the Resurrection we know for certain that the Lord is with us now and always will be. It’s a message of hope that we all so badly need to hear and know today and it is through the Risen Christ that this hope becomes a reality. The Lord is Risen, He is Risen indeed. Amen and thanks be to God.
Living God, our Lord and King, we bless You and we praise You. For the Resurrection of the springtime, for the everlasting hopes that rise within our human hearts and for the Gospel of Resurrection which has brought life and immortality to light. Because of this joyful Easter time our Gospel is a Gospel of hope and we pray that this message will bring hope to those who need it most today. The lonely, sick and bereaved, especially those known to us in our own communities, indeed all those who are suffering in some way, in particular at this time all who have been affected in some way by this coronavirus, especially those who have lost loved ones to it. Be with them now we pray, as only You can.
Eternal and everlasting God, reveal your presence to each and every one of us here today. Send forth into all our hearts the Spirit of the Risen Christ, that with all your saints in heaven and on here on earth, we may serve You in the power and joy of the Resurrection and so glorify you forever more. And all this we ask in the name of the Risen Christ. Amen.
Easter Sunday Evening – National Call To Prayer
On this Easter Sunday evening the leaders of all Churches have come together to call us to prayer at 7.00pm this evening. Underneath is a prayer by the leaders of all churches that could be used to begin this time of prayer. The full statement can be found on the Church of Scotland website where it also lists all those leaders whom signed that statement.
A prayer for Easter Sunday
Lord, it feels as if we’ve been walking in the Good Friday shadow of the cross;
feeling disorientated, concerned and filled with heartache;
praying for healing for those poorly,
whether government leader or more personally known;
and comfort for those bereaved;
expressing thanks for the selfless dedication of NHS staff,
those delivering social care,
and everyone ensuring that essential services and supplies are maintained,
in company with those who volunteer.
Lord, as we journey on,
help us now to embrace the dawning Easter joy of the cross;
like the first disciples,
the transforming wonder of Christ’s resurrection;
like the first disciples,
that it may take time to comprehend the reality of Easter;
reflecting new life through words and deeds.
Hear us, and journey with us,
in the name of the risen Christ.