Manna mailing: Bishop's letter

28th February 2024

Bishop MichaelNew life for all the world

Sowing seeds, chitting potatoes, choosing varieties. Easter acts as starter’s orders for the gardening year. Beds are cultivated, lawns mown, plans for all the growth and new life that spring and summer will bring made and then turned into action.

There’s a much greater connection between gardening and Easter than it merely being the time to dust off forks and spades. For in the Bible, a garden is the setting for Easter itself. In John’s Gospel (Jn 20:1-18) Mary Magdalene meets the risen Jesus in a garden. Indeed, Jesus’s appearance to Mary is so unexpected that at first she can’t believe it’s really him. So she mistakes the man she meets ‘supposing him to be the gardener’ (John 20:15). 

In John’s account, all the new life contained in the first Easter chimes with a much earlier story set in a garden too. This is of the new life of another man and woman, the creation story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and contained in the book of Genesis (Genesis 2:4- 3:24). In that story, Adam is the gardener (Gen 2:15), only for things to go wrong. In John, Jesus is portrayed as the new Adam – come to bring new life that has no end. 

What would happen if we were to think of our churches as gardens, primed to welcome the spring that is the new life of Jesus this Easter? What would happen if we imagined ourselves called to be gardeners – like our father Adam and the new Adam, Jesus? What would we expect to grow? What might need pruning or weeding? What new plans for the coming season would we make and turn into action? What would be the harvest that we’d sow for, tend and then reap?

For I reckon we should see Easter as the starting point of all that God wants to do among us and with us. Jesus’s resurrection opens us to being part of God’s new creation. Easter offers us a fresh start for life, relationships and the life of our churches: new life for all the world.

Happy gardening and a very Happy Easter to you all.

Bishop Michael
This letter first appeared in the Manna mailing for April 2024
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