Easter Gardens

Do you know what an Easter garden is? It’s a miniature garden on a tray or a table, made with soil, stones, moss and small plants, and designed to depict the garden where Jesus’ tomb lay.

My wife and I first made one in Nanae, Hokkaido, using a sledge (sled) as a base. I’d seen examples in England, and I thought: everyone displays Christmas scenes with the manger and the stable, but what about Easter? Christ’s death and resurrection are far more prominent in the Bible than his birth, so how can we present this in a three-dimensional form?

We’ve made Easter gardens in many of the churches we have served, and people have picked the idea up from us. We find natural stones to build the tomb in one corner, spread fine soil as a base and collect moss for ground cover. In a different corner we build a hill and plant three crosses, then use sand or fine gravel (sold for aquariums) to suggest a path winding through the garden. On Easter morning we leave the tomb standing open, and add small flowers.

Just having the Easter garden in the church—or sometimes outside at the front—makes people look and ask what it’s about. So of course we can tell them the whole story! Several people have commented how well suited this concept is to Japan, with its tradition of bonsai trees and hakoniwa tray gardens. Once, a pastor from another church in Hanamaki saw our Easter garden on a visit with his wife, and they liked the idea so much that they’ve been making one in their church ever since!

By Peter, an OMF Missionary

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