Day 399 | Thursday, 22 April 2021
Yesterday was interesting as we basked in the snow that covered the lawns and flowers.
“In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan, snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, in the bleak mid (April) winter, (yesterday)”. We are 18 days into the Easter season as we move toward the flames of Pentecost and the warmth of the Holy Spirit. Speaking of warmth, we enjoyed our electric fireplace yesterday and probably today as well.
Let me take us back to Easter morning and share the scripture from John 20:11-18 from the Revised Standard Version. Mary is outside the tomb.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."
14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." 18 Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
This scripture is the base for a hymn which many of us consider a favorite. Next to “The Old Rugged Cross”, “In the Garden” has been one of the most popular gospel hymns ever written.
“It was in 1912 that music publisher Dr. Adam Geibel asked C. Austin Miles to write a hymn text that would be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.””
“Here is the account of how this beautiful hymn was written from the hymn writer, C. Austin Miles, himself, “One day in April 1912, I was seated in the dark room where I kept my photographic equipment, and also my organ. I drew my Bible toward me and it opened at my favorite book and chapter, John chapter twenty. I don’t know if this was by chance or by the work of the Holy Spirit. I will let you the reader decide. That story of Jesus and Mary in John 20 had lost none of its power and charm.”
“It was though I was in a trance, as I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary’s life when she knelt before her Lord and cried, “Rabboni”. I rested my hands on the open Bible, as I stared at the light blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head, bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary. As she came unto the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in and ran away.”
“John, in a flowing robe, appeared looking at the tomb. Then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John. As they departed, Mary reappeared leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb, she wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing there, so did I. I knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched, and looking into His face cried, “Rabboni”.”
“I awakened in sunlight, gripping my Bible with my muscles tense, and nerves vibrating, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the lyrics exactly as it is sung today. That same evening, I wrote the tune. It is sung today as it was written in 1912.””
Holy God, how peaceful it is to walk in gardens amongst the flowering shrubs and seasonal flowers. This favorite hymn fills us with inner peace. It is easy to imagine Jesus walking with us reassuring us with tenderness. Thank you for inspiring Austin Miles to write this powerful hymn. We find in this hymn hope, rest and comfort. Lord, hear our prayers. Amen
Today: those who create gardens for all to enjoy.