St. John the Baptist, Lakefield has stood stately at the corner of Queen and Regent streets since 1866. St. John’s has a great location. People love to go for walks through the village. They often have children in strollers or dogs on leashes. We can’t change the letters on our large sign without someone stopping to give a greeting.
In February, the church’s Growing Forward Together team met by Zoom. One of the items on the agenda was possible plans for Easter. The team comprises six members of our congregation and the Rev. Peter Garcia, our new incumbent. Its purpose is to return the church to a state of health and sustainability so we can achieve our vision.
Rene Jackman, people’s warden and a member of the team, pitched the idea of an Easter garden. We agreed that it was a wonderful idea to put up a life-sized Easter garden on the lawns of St. John’s. It was the perfect setting to show that the Easter message of God’s great love and forgiveness is at the heart of our faith.
How did we make the Easter garden? Velta, one of our members talented in design and construction, volunteered to make a life-sized tomb. She cleverly designed it using thick insulation and built it in three parts for easier transportation and storage, as we planned to use it another year.
One family of three girls painted a banner that told the Easter story. Using the elements of this drawing, Prim made a colourful fabric banner. This was installed on the church lawn. Prim also agreed to make an eight-foot-tall banner with the words “Jesus Lives” to be hung on a feather-shaped banner stand. This was placed beside the tomb.
Overlooking the tomb, we positioned a cross in the ground with a crown of thorns and a purple cloth on Good Friday, along with a spotlight to illuminate it at night. Large branches of pussy willows softened the background against the large stones of the church. We placed scripture verses on stakes along the path leading to the tomb, telling the rest of the story beginning at Christmas.
The final verse placed inside the empty tomb said, “He is not here. He is risen as he said.” Members of the congregation were invited to donate pots of spring flowers to be placed by the tomb for Easter morning. The large church sign was changed to read “Jesus is alive. Hallelujah!” It was a great team effort.
People were invited to walk through the display while reading the highlights of the Easter story as told in the Bible. We found that the Easter garden sparked much interest in St. John’s Facebook group. It encouraged other Christians as they walked or drove by. We were grateful for the interest shown by St. John’s congregation and felt that our efforts were most worthwhile. We showed the community how much God loved the world: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (John 3:16).