What’s Your Garden???

Posted by on Jun 26, 2021 in Godprints | 0 comments

In 1912, songwriter C. Austin Miles penned what would eventually become known (in Pitman!)  as “the Pitman Anthem.” Miles lived in Pitman, and it is believed that he wrote this famous hymn during his time in our town (although that point is debatable).

But what is for sure is that the hymn “In the Garden” speaks of an enduring relationship between God and His children. 

The pandemic forced us to find new ways of community while maintaining physical distance from each other.  During this time, we developed an agility with technology that allowed us to meet virtually.  In June of 2021, PUMC’er Bob Bazzel and his daughter Abigail Marmelstein used their musical and computer skills to assemble a virtual choir to sing “In the Garden.”  About 14 people recorded their voices while singing along with an instrumental rendition.  The resulting audio files were merged together and graphic slides were created.  The result is the below video rendition of “Pitman’s In The Garden.”

 

 

 

Mary’s Garden

In this song, C. Austin Miles depicts the experience of Mary Magdalene on the first Easter morning as she goes to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.   She goes in fear, confusion, and in mourning.  As she arrives, she sees that the big stone has been rolled away from the tomb’s entrance.  Angels are there to explain.  Then, she hears what she supposes to be the gardener behind her.  She asks the gardener where the body has been taken, but the “gardener” simply speaks her name: “Mary…”  

With the mention of her name, Mary’s fears are turned to love and wonder.  Mary realizes that Jesus is with her.  In the quiet of that garden, her relationship with God bursts into her conscious and she can think of nothing else.  “Mary…

The account is told in John 20:10-16 (and depicted on the “Resurrection Window” which is at the front of our sanctuary).

 

 

Other Gardens

Mary…”  Her whole attitude and demeanor was transformed simply by hearing the Lord speak her name.  In the quiet morning of a garden, near an empty tomb, she felt the comforting presence of God.  Throughout scripture, we see examples of God turning seemingly ordinary moments into uplifting encounters with Himself.

 

John 12:1-8   Jesus came over for dinner.  While her sister Martha was busy making dinner, Mary took a few moments to spend some quiet moments anointing Jesus’ feet.   Mary knew that time was running out; she wouldn’t have many more opportunities to be with Jesus.  But Martha was in a rush.  She was busy in the kitchen instead of “the garden.”

1 Kings 19:1-13      Elijah had just been in the center of a huge miracle.  At Elijah’s request, God sent fire from heaven to accept Elijah’s offering, while burning up the prophets of Baal to reject their offering.  After that, God answered Elijah’s prayer by sending rain to end a drought.  But the queen wanted to take revenge on Elijah, so Elijah fled in fear.  He ended up in a cave, far far away from the limelight (and from Queen Jezebel). 

He cried out before God.  He was depressed, afraid, and needed encouragement.  In the quiet of his “garden” (a cave), God answered Ejilah with a “still, small voice.” 

John 21:1-14   Jesus had been crucified.  And even though the disciples saw Him alive in Jerusalem, they became confused.  So they returned to what they knew best: fishing. 

In the “garden” of these familiar surroundings, they saw Jesus.  Jesus miraculously prepared breakfast for His disciples on the beach.  In the quiet of this “garden”, they rediscovered the Lord and found encouragement and forgiveness.

Psalm 8:1-4    David didn’t have a telescope, but he was able to step out into the quiet of a still night and marvel at the stars.  What he saw inspired him to write this Psalm. 

We can be inspired by the night sky too, but how often are we too busy, too tired, or too distracted to notice the wonder of God’s Creation? David’s “garden” was to gaze into the sky on a quiet evening and then to ponder the wonders of our Creator-God who is big enough to create the whole universe and yet “small” enough to notice us.

I Samuel 12:6-23   The Israelites were worried.  They were surrounded by enemies and they were afraid, and so they asked for a king.  The prophet Samuel called them together and led them to bring their worries into a “garden”… the “garden” of remembering what God had done for them.  Yes, they had done wrong by asking for an earthly king, but Samuel reminded them that God was always ready to forgive. He is always by your side if your heart turns to Him and if you’re ready to be quiet and listen. 

Mark 6:30-31   Jesus had paired off His disciples and sent them out to go from village to village and preach repentance to the people.  The disciples had just returned from the trip and they had a lot of things they wanted to tell Jesus.  But the crowds all wanted Jesus’ attention.  The day was busy and noisy.  So Jesus led His disciples to “a quiet place.” 

Maybe they went up into the hillside.  Maybe they found the home of a friend.  Maybe they pushed off into a boat.  But whatever it was, even Jesus needed a “garden” so that His disciples could speak to Him and listen to Him. 

 

 

Where’s YOUR Garden?

Where are YOUR quiet and ordinary moments?  Samuel reminded the people that “useless idols can do no good” and he challenged the people to “consider what great things God has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:21-24).  It’s so easy to get caught up in our “to-do” lists and to get wrapped up in the noise that comes when we focus on satisfying our desires.  We so easily chase after “idols” and we find it hard to slow down to listen for the quiet voice of God… “Mary…” 

To hear that re-assuring and powerful voice of God, find a quiet place.  It might be on a beach or in a fishing boat.  It might be during or a walk around your neighborhood, or a drive through the countryside.  It might be in the quiet morning moments during prayer or scripture reading, or it might be in the sanctuary surrounded by your church family. 

C. Austin Miles- and Mary- found that quiet moment in an empty garden.  They captured that recharging experience where “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own…”

Where’s YOUR garden???

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