Dorothy Frances Gurney wrote, “one is nearer to God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” You can be close to God in the world of nature – he is its creator – and many do find spiritual solace there. There are places where it is better to be in order to sense the close presence of God. However, there is a garden that is very much a part of the Christian story. All the gospels refer to it. A garden set on the slopes of the Mount of Olives in the Palestine of Jesus’ day, known to us as Gethsemane. There Jesus chose to spend the final moments before his arrest, unburdening his soul to God in prayer.
Those who remember His personal conflict and his heart-rending prayer, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from me,” may be excused for thinking that Jesus felt totally estranged from God in that Garden. As he prayed, “the sweat was like drops of blood falling.” Take a closer look and, in the picture we have in the gospels, we see Jesus and sense the presence of God with him. You do not plead like that to a god who is absent.
A garden, a sacred moment and a sacred place.
A disciple’s prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, at your moment of severe trial, when everything seemed against you and death itself stared you in the face, you found a sacred place, a sacred moment to spend in quiet with the Father.
You prayed to be excused the ignominy and the agony of the Cross. We would do the same. What we would find more difficult is to pray, as you did: “if is your will not to take the cup from me, I will go to the Cross.”
Lord Jesus Christ, save us from an hour of so severe a testing, but if it comes, may we find the grace to accept it and the strength to bear it, fortified and strengthened because you share the cup with us.
Lord, this is our quiet moment, our sacred place . . . . be close to us that we may share Your victory.
The blog will be taking a holiday next week, but will be back on April 9th.