I want to tell you the story, on this Easter Sunday, of two gardens. With apologies to Charles Dickens, let me say that the first garden started as the best of gardens and became the worst of gardens. The second was, for a little while, the worst of gardens, but it became the best of gardens. And so it is, to this very day.
The first garden is the place known as the Garden of Eden. It was a perfect place. Those who lived there had everything they needed, every beauty, every dream. It was the best of gardens. Still today its name symbolises all that is wonderful. But through human selfishness and ego, it became the worst of places. Or at any rate, the worst of decisions were made there, so that the place of perfection became the doorway to tragedy.
The second garden was outside the City of Jerusalem. At first sight, it appears to be the worst of places, for it was the place of death. You see, a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, had a burial ground there. It was physically beautiful, mind you, and there was a tranquillity there, but it was the tranquillity of death. It is the Garden where they buried Jesus of Nazareth late one Friday afternoon… this morning we are reminded of Mary of Magdala who rushed one morning to that place to visit again the man who had turned around her life, for a second time he turned her life around as he called ‘Mary.’
So this morning let us go together to a garden. Not necessarily in Jerusalem, but any garden: the yard in front of the church will do, or the grass by your home or apartment. Indeed, if you want, you can even go to a car park; the grass and trees are not the measure, now. And ponder, where you stand, that once there was a lovely garden that self-will and hell made ugly, and then there was a garden of death that God transformed into the eternal garden of life. And as you think of someone you love, who has gone through the portals of death, pause to see the Son of God. He dances in victory at the place called death. The battle has been won. Thanks be to God, and Amen!