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The Garden Tomb and Beyond

A Personal Reflection

As we have journeyed through Lent, we have been encouraged to “slow down to keep up with God”; at first that might sound rather strange, but we are most aware of God in those quiet spaces of our lives. So this has been very much a time of spiritual reflection that has now come to its climax with Good Friday, and of course today, Easter Day. I have found myself reflecting on Easter in 1996; Gail and I had the privilege of leading a group to the Holy Land, and so in Holy Week we were in Jerusalem.

There is something very special about being there where it all happened, and to re -live those events as Holy Week progressed. I could tell you about being on the Mount of Olives, looking across the valley to Jerusalem, or being in the Garden of Gethsemane (picture). But I want to focus on the Garden Tomb, which many (including me) believe is likely to be the place of the first Good Friday and Easter.

On Maundy Thursday we shared Holy Communion in an open-air chapel in the Garden. Nearby was the rocky cliff face of Golgotha, or the place of a skull. So one can imagine the cross nearby.

Then we were able to spend a few minutes inside the tomb, and for me at least it was profoundly moving to think that I could be standing perhaps a metre away from where the body of Jesus was placed. But then, full of a host of deep thoughts and emotions, we had to go. As I turned towards the exit, there was an arresting sign above the door.

“He is not here, for he is risen”!

I KNEW THAT! Of course I knew; but after being so immersed in the situation, the impact of that moment was nonetheless profound. “Knowing” moved to a new level; it must become something that is experienced deep within if we are to live as Easter people whose faith has truly come alive in the 21st century.

Rev. Dr. Clive W. Ayre

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