What’s Up with Pastor Todd 4-10-20

Schmaltz warning: view at your own risk!

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 4-10-20

The resurrection story in the Gospel of John is famous for its recounting of Mary’s personal encounter with Jesus “in the garden” near the tomb. John is the only gospel that contains this story. It’s vivid in detail, and it inspired the schmaltzy hymn “In the Garden.” For those of you not familiar, it goes like this:  

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear 

falling on my ear

the Son of God discloses. 

Chorus:

And he walks with me

And he talks with me

And he tells me I am his own

And the joy we share

As we tarry there

None other has ever known.

The joke in my family was, “Who’s Andy?” (You know “Andy” walks with me. “Andy” talks with me . . .)

You probably love this hymn. A lot of people do. And I’m not immune to schmaltz, but this particular hymn was always a little much for me. 

That’s why I’ve chosen to preach on this text this week. I wonder if there’s something vivid and powerful underneath the layers of sentimentality that have been slathered on this particular resurrection scene that can speak to this time of crisis.

If I had to guess, it might have something to do with the garden and gardening itself. John tells us that when Mary encounters Jesus she at first mistakes him for the “gardener.” The image of the garden reminds me of the Biblical Garden of Eden and all that transpired there: creation, disobedience, the curse of Adam and Eve, and the promise of redemption. It also reminds me of the famous pronouncement following creation: “God saw all that God had made, and behold it was very good.” 

As coronavirus wreaks havoc across the planet, does “very good” still apply? Had resurrection really happened back when Mary encountered “the gardener” so many centuries ago? More importantly, can it happen now?

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