Start the talk by choosing two people to play a round of hide and seek.
In the beginning God made the world and made people. And it was good.
And then we messed it all up with our selfishness and our pride. We thought we could be in charge rather than God. And we still often do. And it messes everything up.
And when you read the story at the beginning of the bible, after their sin, Adam and Eve hid away in the garden.
God came looking for them. And he said “where are you?”. Of course God knew where they were. But they were hiding away because they were ashamed. It wasn’t a fun game of hide and seek. They were ashamed and afraid and they were trying to hide away from God. And God said “where are you”.
God had given them a job. To look after the beautiful, glorious garden of Eden. To be the gardeners. But they turned away from God. And sin and evil and suffering and pain and death came in. And they hid away. And God said “where are you”.
And he still says it to us. Not because he doesn’t know where we are. But because we feel ashamed and afraid. And we think we can hide away from God. And he wants us to come out. So he says “where are you?”
Today he comes into this place and into our communities and our homes and he says “where are you?” You are my gardeners. I’ve given you a job to do. To make things beautiful and to look after my world. And you’ve made a mess of it. Where are you?”
OK keep that image in your minds.
But now I have a question for you… What were the first words Jesus said after he rose from the dead?
(You may like to invite people answer)
The answer is:
“Why are you weeping”
“Why are you weeping?” Jesus said. “dear woman, why are you crying?”
Let’s read today’s passage.
Rather than simply read the passage out we split it up between four people and read it as a dramatic reading.
The risen Jesus came to his world and the first words he said were to his friend Mary Magdelene. “Why are you crying?”
They were in a garden. She didn’t recognise him. She thought he was the gardener.
Jesus carried on, “who are you looking for?”.
Mary thought they had taken Jesus away. Thought he was hidden.
“Mary!” Jesus said. And as he said her name, she recognised him.
And everything changed.
The risen Jesus comes to his world. Comes to us and says “why are you crying?”
He knows what it’s like to cry. He cried at the funeral of his friend Lazarus as he saw the heartache of those around him. He cried over the city of Jerusalem as he saw how it had turned away from God. And I believe he has cried countless times since then as he has seen people sick and damaged and messed up and hurting each other.
But he didn’t just cry. He into came to our world. Messed up and full of weeds and stones.
And he lived with us and he was murdered for us and by us. And he was buried in the earth of the garden. In a tomb with a stone at the door.
But the earth couldn’t hold him. Death couldn’t defeat him. Evil couldn’t conquer him.
He rose from the dead.
And now he says to us, “why are you crying?” “Who are you looking for?”
Who do you think has the answer to your tears?
He is standing in front of you. Though you may not recognise him.
But listen with all your heart and you will hear him saying your name.
Richard! Ali! Charlie! Andrew! Sarah! [Swap these names for people from your congregation]
He’s not just the gardener. He’s the one who made the earth and the plants.
And he knows what makes you cry. And he cries with you. But he also brings hope because he has conquered those things. So that every tear will be wiped away.
And he says come on. Work with me in this garden. Roll up your sleeves. Pick up a spade. Let’s dig up weeds together. Let’s get rid of rubbish together. Let’s plant beautiful flowers and delicious fruit trees together.
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