Church of England Diocese of Manchester Kirklees Valley

2) e) 'Gardens' - Lent Reflections by Derek Akker - Week 5

There is Hope in Gardens

(Sit here . . .)

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Sit here! That’s what we often do on a fine day, enjoying the warmth and the rich variety of sensations the garden can bring. Our journey through Lent has been a walk-through various gardens, not always conventional gardens, but gardens none the less.

We started with the wilderness as a garden and the suggestion that perhaps we should have a wilderness space within our garden:

You call us to the wilderness,
an empty, barren land.
The challenge is to break away
and then to trust your hand.
You call us to the wilderness
to concentrate the mind
on letting go of many things
that stifle humankind.
(Paul Wood and Ian Worsfold)

In the second week we looked at seeds and how they grow:

The sower went forth sowing,
The seed in secret slept
Through weeks of faith and patience,
Till out the green blade crept;
And warmed by golden sunshine,
And fed by silver rain,
At last the fields were whitened
To harvest once again.
O praise the heavenly Sower,
Who gave the fruitful seed,
And watched and watered duly,
And ripened for our need.
(John Frederick Bridge)

From the seed there was the relaxing greenery of the garden in week three:

A time for hoping and being still,

To go on turning away from brittle fear.

A time to come back with all of one’s heart

And bending to another’s call.

This is our journey through forests tall; (or the small contained greenery of our garden)

Our paths may differ; and yet among them all

Life’s dreams visions sustain us on our way,

as loving gives birth to joy, gives birth to joy. (Gregory Norbert, Weston Priory)

For the fourth week it was a blaze of beauty and the assault on our senses as

‘We gaze at the flowers in our garden and sometimes bring those flowers into our homes, or we buy flowers and arrange them and allow the beauty of their form to brighten up our homes’.

We now enter the final week for Lent and come to our final garden. The Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal and arrest. It is a garden of faith, passion and pain.

Some of the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane are thought to be over 2000 years old and are still bearing fruit. While there may be doubt as to whether the trees in the contemporary Garden of Gethsemane are in precisely the same location, some scholars would concede that the trees there now come from the same stock as the ones that Jesus prayed next to.

Let us turn to the Gospel and Mark’s account of Jesus’ walk to Gethsemane, remembering that Jesus had celebrated the Passover with his disciples, had instituted the Lord’s Supper and foretold Peter’s denial. It was not an after-dinner stroll; it was a walk taken with a heavy heart, and I imagine with much confusion, anxiety and fear within the minds of Peter, James and John.

If possible, sit out in your garden or at a window overlooking your garden, and for a short time allow the garden you view to become your Garden of Gethsemane. Read through the Gospel reading slowly, stopping if a word or sentence stands out. Pause and reflect on that word or sentence. When you have read the Gospel through, return to the beginning and read it through again.

"And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, 'Sit here, while I pray.' And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch.' And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.' And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, 'Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.' And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time, and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come; the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.'" (14:32-42)

This is the Gospel of the Lord, thanks be to God.

The Lord’s Prayer

Collect for the Fifth Week of Lent

Gracious Father,

you gave up your Son

out of love for the world:

lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,

that we may know eternal peace

through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood,

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

+ To God the Father, who created the world;

to God the Son, who redeemed the world;

to God the Holy Spirit, who sustains the world;

be praise and glory, now and for ever. Amen (David Adam)

Go in the Peace of the Lord, thanks be to God