Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ – John 20:11-15
These are strange times we are living in. The approach of Easter feels so much heavier than it has in previous years. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the whole world into a shared experience of loss and grief like never before. We have truly entered into suffering with our Lord, waiting for our own Easter moment when things will be set right again, but we don’t know when it will happen, or how, or what it will look like on the other side.
When Mary saw Jesus after his resurrection, he looked a lot like a gardener. I like that part of the story. Even though I don’t have much of a green thumb, I do know that gardeners tend to the earth with great care and concern. Cultivating, restoring, nourishing.
New creation was launched the second Jesus rose up from the grave. And we, God’s children, are called to be his very hands in bringing this new world to completion. Even in our self-isolation, especially during this time of need, we are to be Resurrection people.
This is the Easter task that Jesus, the Good Gardener, invites us into — make the world a garden again!
Today the sun was shining and while my boys kicked soccer balls around the backyard I raked dried leaves into piles.Tomorrow I will scoop them into bags and set them on the curb. Slowly I am turning our yard into something better. And with every pull of the rake, every stick I collect, every piece of garbage I throw away, I am reminded that God is at work in me, through me, and around me, in much the same way. Fixing things that are broken, restoring things, making them beautiful again.
I am encouraged by something I read by N.T. Wright recently — “Whatever you do in the present in Christ and by the Spirit will somehow be part of the new world that God is making and will one day complete.”
The choices I make today, in this very moment, can be a part of this new garden. I know there are times I’ve not taken this task seriously enough, when I’ve chosen hatred over love, resentment over forgiveness, anger over peace. But I want to sow light, not darkness. So I am trying to listen and pay attention to how the spirit is nudging me. Where can I be planting seeds of faith and hope and love in this world that is groaning for redemption?
Lord, may we hear and respond to your invitation, to make your world a garden again. We know there are places where darkness has grown in like weeds, choking life out of your earth and your people. We feel its grip in our very hearts. Help us see where you are calling us to sow light and love. Give us the perseverance to keep doing good even when we can’t see the fruits of our efforts. May your kingdom come, right now, we pray. Amen.