This is the first in the Friday Night in the Garden Vespers series.
The theme for tonight’s vesper service is “The Cost of Servanthood.” But what does a garden have to do with servanthood or the cost of being a servant for God?
A garden is not supposed to be a place where one even thinks about servanthood or what it means to be a servant for Christ. A garden is a place of memory and contemplation, a place to pause during a busy day and to be able to hide from the problems of the world. The last place we want to see or hear the world is when we are in the garden.
Too many times, people want their gardens to be closed off from the world. There were many people who wondered if these two gardens would not somehow be filled with trash. Surprisingly, for those people, that hasn’t happened. There are no signs around but the word is out that these are places of prayer and peace, of remembrance and contemplation. You are invited to come and sit, to enjoy the flowers and the smells and sounds. Sometimes in the morning, when the dew is still on the roses and the birds are singing, it is quite clear that God is in this place.
We need our time in the garden. What Paul wrote to the Corinthians still holds true today. We must constantly check on ourselves to see if we are still Christians; we have to take an inventory to see if who we are and what we do are evidence that Christ is within us. We cannot do that unless we have a place apart from the world around us. We need our gardens and we need the time we spend in them.
Even Christ found it necessary to seek time away from the world. On more than one occasion, the writers of the Gospels noted that He went away to pray. So He had to have gone to a garden or somewhere secluded to pray and recharge spiritually. But we are reminded that it was in the garden that Christ was arrested and, no matter how secluded the garden may have been, there was still a real world outside its boundaries.
And the time will come, when all is said and done, for us to return to the world outside the boundaries of the garden, to the problems of the world. We cannot stay in the garden forever, for we came to be with Christ and now that He is with us, we need to take Him back into the world. Having come to this place and recharged our batteries, we know have the strength that is needed to work for peace and justice, for hope and possibility in this world.
If we do not come to garden every now and then, then the cost of being Christ’s follower, of being His servant, is that we will become like the people of Christ’s time, unable to feel the Spirit or truly be God’s people. But, as Christ did so many times when the pressure of the world began to burden Him, we can come to the garden and become recharged and renewed, able to face the tests that the world places in front of us.
So we have come to the garden; now we leave, refreshed and recharged, able to be Christ’s disciple and servant.