One of my favorite hymns in the United Methodist Hymnal is “In the Garden”. Being an avid gardener, I love the visual image of walking with Jesus though a garden filled with roses and song birds. This time of year when all the dormant winter plants burst into new life, it gives me hope in a world that is confusing and filled with uncertainty. I think that is why Jesus went to the garden to pray on the evening before his crucifixion.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane. He told the disciples, “Sit down here while I go over there and pray.” Matthew 26:36
For me, finding a place of solitude to pray is essential. A peaceful outdoor setting, enjoying the soft sounds of the birds and the breeze helps me to communicate and grow in my relationship with God. It is a vital component of my faith-walk.
Last night Perdido Bay UMC held a Maundy Thursday worship service. Those in attendance received an “Invitation to the Garden”. Holy Communion was served on a long table in front of the altar. The table was beautifully decorated, much as it would have been the night of the Last Supper, with palm branches, food, dishes, a basin and cloth, money bag, thistles and thorns. Holy Communion was served seated at the table in groups of twelve. After receiving Communion, we were encouraged to proceed to the Garden area on the south side of the Sanctuary, remembering how Jesus Christ and the twelve disciples went into the Garden of Gethsemane. Many sat for a long while, praying and remembering – it was an extraordinary way to remind us of the sacrifice to come.
I am grateful for a Church and its Pastors that would offer such a beautiful Maundy Thursday service. I am grateful for a Church that places value in creating and preserving the property we are blessed to have with its Gardens and Nature Trail. Please try to find time this week to sit outside and pray to the Creator of the beauty that surrounds you.