Dear Friends,

After what has seemed like an endless winter, can we finally say that spring has arrived?  I love the Valley at this time of year and have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t look forward to the bursts of colour along the hedgerows and in our gardens. Last year turned out to be a bumper year for daffodils. Will they put on such a good show this year? All this spring colour, accompanied by longer and—hopefully—warmer days can really lift our spirits.

The month of April is a celebration of ‘new life’ in our churches and schools too. Easter Day announces that Jesus is alive and that his love for us bursts out of the darkness of despair and death.

There is a lovely detail in the Resurrection Story in St John’s Gospel which I think about when I see spring flowers at Easter (John 20: 11–15). In John’s telling of Jesus being raised from the dead, the setting is a garden. Jesus, who was crucified three days before, has been placed in a cold, dark tomb —a place of death in the middle of a place of new life.

Mary Magdalen, who had been a devoted follower of Jesus, goes to the garden early in the morning to tend the grave of her friend. When she sees that the tomb has been disturbed and the body of Jesus taken, she is distraught. She turns to talk to someone who she supposes to be ‘the gardener’.  Of course, she does not realise that this ‘gardener’ is Jesus until he speaks her name. She has made a mistake. Or has she?

The Risen Jesus is indeed ‘the gardener’! The one who lovingly cares and nurtures us. The one who sees the potential in our dry seeds and waits patiently for us to burst into life, tending us every day.

Could we allow Jesus The Gardener to help us grow in faith this spring?

Yours in Christ,

Rev’d Dr Ian Mills