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

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.

U2’s Easter Anthem Window in the Skies – post by Lee Wyatt

Easter is coming

Easter is coming

This morning’s post comes from Lee Wyatt. It was first posted on her blog Marginal Christianity 


U2 gave us our Lenten anthem this year with their song “Walk On.” It seems appropriate to let them lead us into Easter as well. Their beautiful song “Window in the Skies” is a Resurrection ballad that extols the wonders of “what love has done” from God’s raising of Christ from the dead to the manifold ways God’s love raises us to new life today.

This song was recorded at Abbey Road where the Beatles recorded their hit song “All You Need Is Love.” The cover for this song has the four members of U2 crossing Abbey Road. It is eerily reminiscent of the famous album cover of the Beatles crossing that road with Paul out of step with the rest of the band giving rise to all sorts of speculation about his demise.

It is worth picking up on this comparison. The Beatles were cheerleaders for the sexual revolution/free love movement of the sixties. We believed then that human love could overcome all barriers and obstacles and lead us to the promised land. U2’s “Window in the Skies” preaches a different gospel: a more than human love, indeed divine love itself, has come to us, we did our worst to despise and reject that love, yet it proved itself more powerful than any grave into which we could cast it. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead has opened forever a “window in the skies” through which streams freely and forever breathing healing and new life into all our relationships. The Beatles and U2, though recording at the same place, preach very different gospels, one of which is no gospel at all but merely a new name for slavery. U2’s gospel, however, it truly good news. God has acted to do what we cannot, even at our loving best – grasp the genuine humanity and vocation for which we created!

The first verse stakes the claim that freedom and peace have come because death itself has been undone and life, true life, flows among us again. Indeed, “the rule has been disproved.” Death is not the final word, the last chapter of human life. “The stone it has been moved,” and forgiveness and new life are given to us all!

“The shackles are undone
The bullet’s quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when there’s none
The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The GRAVE is now a groove
All debts are removed

Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me”

Resurrection love, contra merely human love, creates strange bedfellows with its enemy-loving, hate-destroying, relationship renewing ways. The genius, the power of this love, is that is gets us “out of our heads” and into God’s “heart”. And from there our attention is wholly captured by the passion to share that love that we have found (or better, has found us) with all we meet – “Oh can’t you see what love has done, what it’s doing for me”!

“Love makes strange enemies
Makes love where love may please
The soul and its striptease
Hate brought to its knees
The sky over our head
We can reach it from our bed
You let me in your heart
And out of my head

Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

Oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh

Please don’t ever let me out of you

I’ve got no shame
Oh no, oh no

Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see
Oh can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

I know I hurt you and I made you cry
Did everything but murder you and I
Our love left a window in the skies
And to love I rhapsodize

Oh can’t you see what love has done
To every broken heart
Oh can’t you see what love has done
For every heart that cries”

And this is all due to the powerful reality that “Love left a window in the skies.” Jesus’ resurrection opened the world to God’s love in a way that it can never be shut out again. Indeed, this love, God’s death-defeating resurrection love, will bring us to the promised land.

“Love left a window in the skies
And to love I rhapsodize

Oh can’t you see”

It’s this kind of love that enables us to “Walk On” as we make our way to the kingdom of God. Have a most blessed Easter!

Ash Wednesday – Mourning the Death Sin Has Caused in Our Lives

Jesus helped by Simon

Journey thorugh Lent beyond the cross to resurrection

Ash Wednesday ranks with Good Friday as one of the busiest days on my blog. For many of us these days mark the beginning and ending of a journey as we walk with Jesus through the final days of his life to the cross. However the cross is not really meant to be the focus of our mourning and fasting. We mourn and fast not because we are heading to the cross but because we are wanting to shed all the hinderances that keep us from an intimate walk with God.

Lent is about looking beyond the cross to the life of God’s kingdom. Asking myself what still needs to be repented of and transformed in  my life so that I can be an effective citizen of God’s resurrection created world is probably the most important question of Lent.

I want to become all that God intends me to be. I want to leave behind all that hinders me from becoming that person. I want to thirst for righteousness and hunger for justice rather than for water and food as I wrote in the prayer I posted yesterday for the first Sunday of Lent .

It is not an easy journey, but then neither was Jesus journey through the cross to resurrection.

Good Friday Reflection

Christ of Springtime - Dave Perry

Today we walk with Christ in the dark shadow of the Cross
Knowing we have weighed him down, our burdens crush his shoulders,
His suffering is for us, and for us he willingly endured death,
Praise God who did not abandon us.

This morning I was struck again by the unexpected and inexplicable ways God works.  Who would have thought that death as a criminal would become the central symbol for our faith?  It is unfathomable.  It is unimaginable and for many of us it is still incomprehensible.  Yet this is the event that transformed the world and that continues to transform our lives.

And in the midst of this terrible event there is hope – the God who did not leave Jesus in the tomb will never abandon us either.  I chose the image above this morning because of the hope it represents.  Christ beckons us beyond the cross to a new springtime emerging – a world of wholeness and completion in which all created mater will be restored and made new.

Easter is Here – Reflect, Renew and Celebrate

Over the last few years I have posted a number of prayers and reflections for Easter from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.  I thought that some of you would appreciate a summary of the most popular.

A Good Friday Prayer for 2011

Holy Week Prayer

A Good Friday Prayer

Good Friday Prayer for 2010

Prayers for Holy Week And Good Friday

Resources for Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Good Friday & Easter Sunday

Maundy Thursday reflections

An Easter Prayer for 2011

Easter Sunday Prayer for 2010

Easter Sunday Prayers

Washing Hands: A Reflection on Good Friday

Thoughts on Holy Week

It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming

More Good Friday Prayers

Passover – Loving the God Who Displaces People

Did Jesus Really Spend Three Days in the Tomb