And They Planted Him In A Garden

birth and crucifixion

At lunch time today Tom and I attended a Good Friday service at our local church. The service included the reading of the story of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion from the gospel of John. What particularly struck me was the account of Jesus burial which tells us that Jesus body was laid in a new tomb in a nearby garden. It is planting time here in Seattle and so, not surprisingly, the imagery that came to my mind was of Jesus, like a seed of wheat, being planted in a garden, buried in the earth to await the birth of a new creation.

Far fetched you might think? Maybe not. Some theologians think that the whole theme of the Gospel of John is that of new creation. Most of the book of  John (chapters 12-20) takes place during one week in the life of Christ. John concentrates on themes. One theme is that Christ will redeem all of Creation (not just souls) through Re-Creation. In many ways Jesus death was like the planting of a seed (Unless a seed is planted in the soil and dies it remains alone, but its death will produce many new seeds, a plentiful harvest of new lives (Jn 12:24).  And then in John 20:15 we read: “she thought he was the gardener”  Why did it matter that Mary Magdalene thought that Jesus was the gardener?  

The gospel of John begins with the words “In the beginning”. This immediately harkens us to the book of Genesis which opens with the same words. John then lays out a series of events in the life of Christ that mirror the Seven Days of Creation.  Read more

In the beginning God planted a garden – the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:8).  In the beginning of the new creation brought into being by the resurrection of Christ God now in the form of the risen Christ, is once more seen as a gardener.  The hope and promise of these words which we so often skim over is incredible.  As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”

So as we mourn the death of Christ today let us  consider the hope that the planting of a seed gives us. It is but a dim mirror of the hope that resides in the Christ whose death we remember today and whose resurrection carries with us the promise of many lives renewed, restored and bearing fruit.


Songs by Steve Bell for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Rainbow tree - posted by Micha Jazz

Song writer and musician Steve Bell has several beautiful posts for this holy weekend that I thought you might like to be aware of

This one for Good Friday features the song Gone is the Light


Gone is the Light  
Music and lyric by Gord Johnson
appears on Steve Bell’s Devotion album (see below)

Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light
Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light

Jesus remember me
When you enter your Kingdom
Jesus remember me
When your kingdom comes

Father forgive them
They know not what they do
Father forgive them
They know not what they do

Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light
Into the darkness we must go
Gone gone is the light

And this one for Easter Sunday features another beautiful song Was It a Morning Like This. 

Was it a Morning Like This | Jim Croegaert

Was it a morning like this
When the sun still hid from Jerusalem
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead

Was it a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem
And two angels stood at the tomb
Bearers of news she would hear soon

Did the grass sing
Did the earth rejoice to feel you again
Over and over like a trumpet underground
Did the earth seem to pound He is risen!
Over and over like in a never ending round
He is risen! Alleluia!

Was it a morning like this
When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem
And as they raced for the tomb
Beneath their feet was there a tune

Maundy Thursday Reflection

This morning I posted this prayer on the Light for the Journey Facebook page.

Lord Jesus Christ today we are reminded
of how you knelt to wash our feet.
In a lowly act of service you poured out love.
Leading us away from power and prestige,
You showed us what true kingship looks like.
Earth shattering, profound,
A reversal of the status quo,
That we still struggle to imitate.
May we today follow your example.
May we kneel and wash the feet of others.
And in so doing share the wonder of your love.

The radical counter cultural nature of Jesus action is almost incomprehensible to us. A God who kneels to wash our feet as a servant. This was a job not just for a servant but for the lowliest of servants.

Two phrases stood out for me as I read the account of Jesus revolutionary action in John 13 this morning. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth and now he loved them to the very end.  (v2) and I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (v15)

All that Jesus has been trying to tell his disciples is summed up in this act of servanthood which John describes as one of the final acts of love Jesus shows towards his disciples. Don’t go after power, wealth and position. Don’t expect others to kneel and wash your feet, get down on your knees and wash theirs.

No wonder the import of this story usually passes us by. It has a part of a ceremony rather than a real act of life. But this is the prelude for the Last Supper. Perhaps it is the prerequisite for us truly being able to take communion together in the way that God intended us to.

So my question for all of us as we stand in the shadow of the cross today is: How can we too kneel and wash the feet of others today? How can we become more like the servants God intends us to be and so share the wonder of Christ’s love?

A Prayer for Good Friday 2013

Good Friday prayer 2013.002

A Prayer for Holy Week and Good Friday 2013

I posted this prayer on the Light for the Journey Facebook page this morning. Its popularity convinced me to add a photo and post it here as well. Enjoy

Holy week prayer 2013.001


Resources for Holy Week #2: Stations of the Cross

This year I thought that I would separate out the stations of the Cross from other Good Friday resources as I know many churches like to have Stations of the Cross available for people to walk throughout Holy Week. This year I tried to put together a collection from around the world attempting to highlight some of the challenging issues of our turbulent world that are portrayed. Most of the images are far from the traditional stations of the cross though I have ended the collection with a mimed rendition of Sandi Patty’s Via Dolorosa. If there are other international images you think should be a part of this collection please add them in the comments. Enjoy!

From Australia

Stations of the Cross by Indigenous Australian Shirley Purdue via

From New Zealand 

This series comes from Hamilton New Zealand

Cityside Baptist church in Auckland New Zealand has held an exhibit of contemporary icons to reflect on at Easter for a number of years. The photos shown were taken at their 2002 and 2004 presentations.

From Middle East and Sudan – 

Here is a heartrending presentation of the stations of the Cross using images of refugees from Iraq and Sudan as spectators and participants.  (The stations of the Cross are down the side of the post)

I also came across this  interesting set of Jordanian stamps which  Mansour Mouasher has found depicting the Stations of the Cross.

From South America

very powerful presentation of the stations from the perspective of liberation theology by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina

From Asia

I enjoyed meditating on this series by a nun in Bangalore India

And another very beautiful, Korean Stations of the Cross by Korean sculptor Choi Jong-tae from Myeong-dong Cathedral.

From Africa

I love this stations of the cross from Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya. The designs were created by Father Angelbert M. Vang SJ from Yaoude, from the Cameroon who was a well-known historian, poet, musician and designer and executed by a Kenyan artist.

This meditation is a poignant reminder of those who struggle daily to carry crosses we cannot even imagine.

From U.K.

This Stations of the Cross series by Chris Gollon was commissioned by the Church of England for the Church of St John on Bethnal Green, in East London. Gollon took the unusual step of using his own son as the model for Jesus, his daughter as Mary, and his wife as Veronica. Fr Alan Green is cast as Nicodemus, and David Tregunna (Gollon’s friend and agent) as Joseph of Arimathea. The juxtaposition of real figures with imagined ones creates a heightened sense of reality. I think that the images are both compelling and powerful.

From Netherlands

I found this mimed rendition of Sandy Patti’s Via Dolorosa very refreshing.


God loves you this much by Dave Perry

I was profoundly impacted as I read this post by Dave Perry over at Visual theology this morning.

God loves

God loves you this much by Dave Perry

As Good Friday approaches I wonder whether I have the courage to write my name into the blank space above, knowing that if I do God will want to gift resurrection life to me where I need it most? In response to being loved this much God invites me just to let love do its work within my soul so that I will be transformed by the power of forgiveness where that is required, set free from all that diminishes me as a person where that is longed for, and opened up to faith in fresh ways where that is called for as a follower of Jesus.

I can’t expect to be a spectator on Good Friday.

When God loves me this much the least I can do is trust that such love will be the (re)making of me, and be prepared on Easter Day to meet the risen Christ within my life in the place of his choosing.

Red Remains – A Prayer for Holy Week From Sally Morgenthaler

This morning I am posting a poem by Sally Morgenthaler. Sally says “I used to use speak with words. Now I use images. Photographing the everyday beautiful for the everyday soul. Patterns, sub-worlds, blur, and fleeting light. Life as a divine, sensual experience.” However as you can see she is still pretty good with words too.

Should there be any doubt
Any hearts
Against love imagined
Against tenderness
Not spoken
Not poured
Into cavernous pain
Red remains
Cells of fire and ice
On our souls
As surely as upon
Your swaddling cloth
Your burial shroud
That ready sponge
To sop Love’s lavish loss
Love’s sure ointment
Red remains
Should there be any doubt
That you are the One
Red asks:
What sage
What saint
Has, from naught, chemistried
This liquid life
Yet to feel its throb
Its heat
Its torturous descent and wane?
Red remains.

Good Friday Prayer 2012


Skeleton cross from Stations of the Cross Cityside Baptist 2005

Today we walk with Christ in the dark shadow of the Cross,

Knowing we have weighed him down,

Our burdens crushed his shoulders,

His suffering is for us,

For us he willingly endured death.

May we trust in God alone,

And walk the way of the Cross together,

Let us move forward without fear into God’s eternal purposes.

Then we will never know disgrace,

And we will learn to praise our God who does not abandon us.

In the midst of grief and despair,

May we know that without darkness nothing is birthed,

Without light nothing will blossom and flower.

May we sense Easter springtime coming,

Death’s dark and overwhelming night will give way to resurrection life.

May we throw off our grave clothes,

And all the weights that hold us down,

Looking and listening for signs of resurrection life,

May we take on the life of the one who raised Christ from the dead. 

And respond to the Spirit of God who lives within us. 


Lord have mercy,

When we stand in the shadow of the cross.

Christ have mercy,

When we kneel with repentant hearts.

Lord have mercy,

And shine your resurrection light on us.


Read John 18:1 – 19:42

God as we walk through this day may we remember,

Beyond sin there is love inexhaustible,

Beyond death there is life unimaginable,

Beyond brokenness there is forgiveness incomprehensible,

Beyond betrayal there is grace poured out eternally,

May we remember and give thanks for the wonder of your love.


You may also like to look at prayers I have written for Good Friday in previous years

Good Friday 2011

Good Friday 2010

Another prayer for Good Friday 2010

Prayer for Good Friday 2009

More Resources for Lent 2012 from the Episcopal Church

A couple of days ago I posted this list of resources for the coming Lenten season. Since then I have added an Ash Wednesday prayer and links to previous prayers. Yesterday I received this email from the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia with some great additional resources.

Resources, meditations and study guides for experiencing a reflective Lenten season are available from the Episcopal Church. Most of these are free downloads. I wish that there was more time to take advantage of them all.

Also on the Episcopal Church facebook page, an ongoing conversation focuses on Ash Wednesday/Lent.

The resources have been complied by the Mission Staff of the Episcopal Church.

Seeking God’s Justice for All:  Exposing the Doctrine of Discovery Part Three: This resource focuses on  responding to the Doctrine of Discovery and the injustice experienced by Indigenous peoples of the Americas for 500 years. It seeks to reconnect justice with the very heart of the Christian tradition – the reconciling, transformative life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Elder Abuse Awareness:  This study helps raise awareness and foster a better understanding of the importance to offer intentional and ongoing ministry to, for and with a wide variety of aging adults in your church and community.

Carbon Fast: Beginning Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, participants will receive a daily email with the day’s suggested carbon-reducing activity.  Or you can sign up on facebook to receive the updates

– Lent 4.5: Christian Simplicity: a seven-week faith formation program which inspires and informs individuals and Christian communities on how to use the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to protect God’s creation, bringing forth and just society, and nurturing a fulfilling spiritual life

Episcopal Relief & Development 2012 Lenten Meditations. the focus this year is on health and I have contributed several of the reflections for the season.

Good Friday Offering Lenten Education Series from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem:

– “Claiming the Vision: Baptismal Identity in the Episcopal Church”: video resource produced as a collaborative effort of Bloy House (the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont), the Episcopal Church Center, and the Evangelical Education Society.  Here or

– World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network: a Lenten course titled “Seven Weeks for Water: The Blue Economy.” In 2011 they produced a great set of biblical reflections on Water and Just Peace. This year the focus will be on the green economy.

– The Anglican Communion’s Bible in the Life of the Church: a five-week course for Lent 2012 titled “And It Was Good”.

Eco-Palms:  harvesters gather only quality palm fronds in a way that allows the plant to keep growing.

The Lenten Resources will be available throughout Lent and Easter.  Additional resources will be added throughout Lent.