I’m struck by the pictures painted in the scripture of two gardens. The Garden of Eden, an idyllic garden, certainly not without temptation, but a space filled with connection to God, each other, and the Earth. We have our moments in the Garden of Eden; creekside sunset strolls, sharing a birthday lunch at the diner with three generations of family, late nights dancing and laughing with loved ones, an unexpected encounter with the voice of God, and celebrations with the table overflowing with good food and drink.
However, this week as we journey with Jesus towards the cross, we find ourselves in the Garden of Gethsemane, a space laden with fear, trembling, sweat, blood, and tears. A moment where Jesus has the choice to either face his enemies with violent revolt or quietly retreat, and instead, he chooses a third way, entering into the suffering of the world, identifying with all who are oppressed, marginalized, betrayed, and forgotten, by taking on the cross.
In 2010, I walked down from my house to St. John’s Franklinton to participate in Stations of the Cross, a practice that I had experienced a few times in my evangelical past, but that was never a regular part of my religious experience. Instead of heading into the church, we loaded up into cars and left, driving to places of suffering in the neighborhood, reading and praying a Station of the Cross at each stop. This has since grounded the story of Jesus’s death in our neighborhood. It has become a reenactment of Jesus wrestling with God in the Garden of Gethsemane. A choice to not turn away from the suffering faced by our neighbors, but a moment to enter into it, to face it, to cry out to God, and to gather the strength to echo Jesus’ words as a community, ” Not my will but yours be done,” as we attempt to live in the way of Jesus.
All are invited to join St. John’s Franklinton this Friday, April 3rd at 6pm at 1003 W. Town St. Columbus, Ohio as we journey throughout the neighborhood to pray the “Stations of the Cross.” The Stations are followed by a traditional Good Friday service at 7:15 for those interested in participating.