“The Church is... where the Lord is acknowledged, and where the Word is.” - The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine §242
Kempton New Church

Easter 2002

Dear Neighbor,

Happy Easter! It is no accident that Easter comes in the springtime. The flowers coming up out of the cold ground remind us of the Lord’s rising again from the dead, bringing new life to all of us.

The Gospel of John especially mentions “gardens” in connection with the Easter story. The place where Jesus met the men who came to arrest Him is called a garden (18:1). So is the place where He was buried, and where He rose (19:41). When Mary Magdalene first saw the risen Lord on Easter morning, she thought He was the gardener (20:15). Although He was certainly not just an ordinary gardener, she was right in the sense that the Lord is the One who makes everything grow. “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

What a wonderful Gardener He is! Out of the dust of the ground, He makes such beautiful and useful things grow, year after year.

He does the same with us. From the time we’re born, He begins preparing the ground in our minds and hearts. Think of all the sweet, peaceful states He gives to every infant. As we grow up, He helps us plow furrows of good habits. The Lord sows the seeds of truths from His Word: teachings about heaven, about marriage, and about living an honest, useful life. “He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). He helps us weed out our selfish states. Little by little, He changes our hearts and our minds. “But the seeds that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the Word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).

The Lord is always working with us, according to our free choices. We are not made ready for heaven instantly, but step by step, season by season.

It was the same with Jesus Himself: He was facing and subduing the devil and the demons all through His life. Over and over He set people free from demons, healed them of all kinds of diseases, and corrected the false teachings of the scribes and Pharisees. His whole life was a process of overcoming the hells to set us free. Last of all, He finished the task when He allowed them to put His natural body to death, so that He could rise in glory. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain… And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself” (John 12:24, 32).

Come celebrate Easter with us. All are welcome every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. If you wish, bring an offering of flowers to thank the Master Gardener for the new life He brings us every year and every moment.

Sincerely,

Rev. Lawson M. Smith