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GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE (Easter 3/Passion)

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PRAYING AT GETHSEMANE. By He Qi.
heqigethsemane.jpg
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OVERVIEW

TOPIC/STORY:

A close look at the earliest scene in narratives of the passion of Christ. Click here for NEAT BACKGROUND NOTES. Here for DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.


WORKSHOPS:

Arts 1, Arts 2, Drama, Computer lab.



ACTIVITIES:

Click on these links to go right to the: Olive grove terrarium * passion symbols banner * drama/scenes in the Garden slide show * computer workshop (including Life of Christ segment plus Moviemaker).



SOURCE TEXTS:

Matthew 26: 36 - 56; Mark 14: 32 - 50; Luke 22:39 - 53; John 18: 1 - 11.



KEY VERSE: Luke 22. 19 - 20.

Then they came to the place which was named Gethsemane: and He said to His disciples, "Sit here while I pray." (New King James Version.)



AFTER STORYTIME IN CHURCH, ALL CHILDREN MEET FOR GATHERING TIME, BRIEF REVIEW, THEN GO TO SCHEDULED WORKSHOPS.

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BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO).

WHY FOCUS ON JUST THIS SCENE?
Generally during the Easter season, we have lots of kids with us during Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. That means we focus on the bookend, celebratory episodes of the Easter story with kids.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Because we have such a mixed bag of kids at this time, whether visiting relatives or thru moms and dads making a special effort to get the kids out to church, we as volunteers don't want or need to bombard the kids with the deep, dark -- though symbolically necessary -- violence of the crucifixion story.

Hence we traditionally in this setting reinforce symbols like that of the cross obliquely, thru making palm crosses, etc. And we choose to leave the revelation of the gory details of the Crucifixion to parents, dependent on their knowledge of the maturity level and tolerances of their own children. Again, a fine tradition.

How then should we treat the option of a several week, conventional Sunday school concurrent with adult worship, rotation style exploration of the Passion narrative?

There's no right answer to this question. Suffice it to say, we have chosen to deal with it through looking in depth at the first stages of the passion, Christ's prayers and petitions, among his sleeping disciples, to God at Gethsemane -- a scene which closes with the tension of the Roman soldiers arriving to take Jesus away. By focussing on just this scene, we can emphasize Christ's humanity, his suffering, and use symbols and images in our activities to increase the children's identification of these symbols, and prompt further discussion in the children's homes.

WHY DO WE REFER TO THESE STORIES AS THE 'PASSION' OF CHRIST?
According to the Webster's New World Dictionary (1957), 'passion' comes from a Latin root word meaning "to endure, suffer." This edition also lists as a meaning for passion: "the agony and sufferings of Jesus during the Crucifixion or during the period following the Last Supper."

The passion of Christ can be more generally understood to mean events leading up to and including his death that allow us to focus on the Son of God's humanity.

GETHSEMANE (pronounced geth-SEM-a-knee).
According to footnotes in Mark's gospel account in the NRSV/NOAB, Gethsemane means "oil press, was an olive orchard or 'garden' on the slope of the Mount of Olives just east of Jerusalem."

MAPS + PHOTO.
To see a old map of the Mount of Olives, click this link: OLD MAP WITH MT. OLIVES . (Shows relative positions of Gethsemane and Golgotha).


To see a more contemporary map, click here: MODERN MAP WITH MT. OLIVES

To see a contemporary photo of the Garden of Gethsemane, click here: PHOTO, GETHSEMANE TODAY . (Make sure you scroll down and read the notes under this picture. They are interesting!)

INTERESTING FOOTNOTES FROM VARIOUS GOSPEL ACCOUNTS OF GETHSEMANE (New Revised Stardard Version/New Oxford Annotated Bible).

Mt 26.37. Peter and sons of Zebedee (James and John). These disciples "have constituted the inner circle of the disciples throughout the story. [As dedicated as they are, they have trouble staying awake as Christ asks.

Also note that the verses immediately preceding the garden story are about Jesus telling Peter, rock though he is, that he will deny knowing Jesus three times before the cock crows.]

Mt 26.47. Crowd comes with swords and clubs. Indicates crowd "expected violence or armed resistance."

Mt. 26.48 - 49. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. "The authorities do not know Jesus well enough to recognize him in the garden."

Mt 26.51. Priest's servant's ear gets cut off. "One of Jesus' followers does have a sword. To some Jesus and his followers look like rebels or bandits interested in the overthrow of the current Jerusalem government."

Mt. 26.52. All who take to the sword will perish by the sword. Is "similar to the prohibitions against bloodshed in Gen. 6.9 [after Noah lands the ark] and reflects Jesus' teaching on non-violent retaliation [ie turn the other cheek, etc. at Mt. 5. 38 - 48].

At Mark 14. 36. Abba. "Aramaic for Father." [We have seen Jesus refer to God using this incredibly familiar form of address before -- in the opening address of the Lord's Prayer. As we noted in our Lord's Prayer study unit: "Abba," means essentially "Daddy." In its day, this was shocking, intimate, personal language to use for addressing the almighty God who is king and creator of the universe. In this way Jesus set the template for us to think of God as a very personal God.]

Mk. 14. 36. Remove this cup. Echoes verses in Last Supper scene just prior to garden, "implicating the disciples, especially James and John." [Footnotes at Luke 22.42 also note that 'cup' is a "metaphor for that which is allotted by God, whether blessing or judgement. Here it refers to Jesus' suffering and death."]

Mk 14. 43 - 50. Arrival of arresting forces. "Emphasis is on the excessive force used by the Jerusalem leaders in their covert action to capture Jesus, as if Jesus were a violent bandit-chieftain. Jesus mocks their reluctance simply to seize him when he had been teaching in the Temple courtyard, which betrays their lack of "authority" and impotence with the people."

At Luke 22. 43 - 44. Sweat like blood drops. "Important early manuscripts lack these verses, but they were known to Christian writers of the second century and reflect tradition concerning the suffering of Jesus. Whether they were part of the original text is debatable."

Lk 22.47 - 53. Arrest of Jesus. "Only in Luke are the chief priests present."

At John 18. 3. Arresting forces. "Roman soldiers and Jewish religious authorities' police collaborated on Jesus' arrest. Lanterns and torches, because it was night."

SYMBOLS OF THE PASSION STORY. (This list taken in part from lesson set on rotation.org re felt banners. For direct link, see Arts 2 Workshop in this set.)

Rooster

Mountain

'Garden'/place of prayer

Olive

Olive tree

Cup

Praying hands

Angel

Tears

Drops of blood

Sleeping Disciple

Kiss of Judas (or a friend)

Clubs, torches, lanterns

Sword

Soldier

Coins

Crown of thorns

Robe

Cross

Dice (representing lots cast by soldiers for robe)

Cave (representing empty tomb Jesus was laid in after his death.)

Linen cloths

Burial spices and ointment

Great stone

FOOD FOR THOUGHT ON THE PASSION OF CHRIST.
As I write this in July 2005, there has been much discussion recently on the Passion based on Mel Gibson's movie, 'The Passion of the Christ,' released in 2004.

Because I think another side of this discussion needs to be reflected, and because I think proponents of the non-literal side of the argument who can express this view with clarity and persuasion [and, dare we say, passion] are few and far between, I am going to close with four long quotations on the Jesus of the Passion by Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye.

FROM FEARFUL SYMMETRY, A STUDY OF WILLIAM BLAKE (PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1947)
"We have already noticed that Blake identifies the dead body of Jesus with the body of the Antichrist, the form which the social hatred of Jesus creates out of Jesus. But on examination there are many other aspects of Jesus' life which it is impossible to separate from this form. We can distinguish a Jesus of action and a Jesus of passion, a healer and teacher who went about increasing the power of the bodies and minds of everyone he touched, and the hero of a tragic drama, whose passion was society's interference with his actions. The Jesus of passion is a foredoomed victim who speaks of a coming "hour," who goes through a sacrificial ritual and who, after conquest of death and hell, floats elusively off into the sky in a supreme anticlimax after a supreme victory. This Jesus of passion, then is not so much a divine and human unity as a cloven "nature," a suffering man and an exhaled divinity. His sufferings do not reveal the character of a joyous Creator but the character of Pilate and Caiaphas, and the Jesus of passion, according to Blake, is the "Satanic body of Holiness" which Jesus had to assume in order to consolidate error, and show what the opposite of Christianity is."

"The true Jesus is the present vision of Jesus, the uniting of the divine and the human in our own minds, and it is only the active Jesus, the teacher and healer and storyteller, who can be recreated. The passive Jesus can only be recalled, and by means of a ceremonial and historical tradition..."

FROM "THE DOUBLE VISION OF GOD," IN NORTHROP FRYE ON RELIGION (TORONTO: U OF T PRESS, 2000).
"The spiritual personality of Jesus as set out in the Gospels, however, remains unchanged as a role model, or rather as THE role model, for Christians. He remains aloof from decision and action, apart from those decisions that affect his own life, but is totally concerned with the world, even though he has a high regard for privacy. What he does is renounce temporal power, as the episode of his arrest shows in particular. Anyone with his abilities of concentration might have been able to eliminate much of the physical pain of the Crucifixion, but it seems clear that he was called upon to renounce that too. It is only after his resurrection that he says, "All power is given unto me" [Matthew 28:18]. Yet there is nothing ghostly about him, and nothing of the sense of antagonism between soul and body. In fact he is ridiculed as one who "comes eating and drinking" (Luke 7:34) instead of being, like Plotinus, an ascetic ashamed of being in a body, as holy men are conventionally supposed to be."

FROM "SYMBOLS," IN NORTHROP FRYE ON RELIGION (TORONTO: U OF T PRESS, 2000).
"The teaching of Jesus follows the pattern of that of Israel. He insists that the reality behind everything we do, the dark world of inner words, is a kingdom in its own right, and the only kingdom to which we owe loyalty. Christianity says that we can know God only as a man, not a strong or successful man, but a man who is hated by both Pilate and Caiaphas, both secular and spiritual power, who is continually being humiliated but continually refuses to be silenced, who forbids us to believe that anything in the world is a reality beyond symbol, a reality to commit oneself to. We are even told that our knowledge of death is not as certain as we have thought it to be, and that when we reach our own death, we shall be drawn out of the daylight world of appearance into a world where beliefs are the only realities, where there are no longer any symbols, and where real existence is to be inseparably part of a God who is also this rejected man. Such a belief is what is symbolized by the rite of communion, the act of eating and drinking a body which is the uncreated form of God, man and nature. The rite points toward a state of existence in which our ordinary associations with light and darkness go into reverse, when we discover that it is this sunlit world that is really the uncomprehending darkness, and the darkness where we can only listen to the Word really a blaze of light, a golden city."

FROM FEARFUL SYMMETRY, A STUDY OF WILLIAM BLAKE (PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1947)
"We reach final understanding of the Bible when our imaginations become possessed by the Jesus of the resurrection, the pure community of a divine man, the absolute civilization of the city of God. This Jesus stands just outside the Bible, and to reach him we must crawl through the narrow gap between the end of Revelation and the beginning of Genesis, and then see the entire vision of the Bible below us as a vast cycle of existence from the creation of a fallen world to the recreation of an unfallen one. If we remain inside the gap with the Jesus of history, we are still within that cycle, which thereby becomes the circumference of our vision...

"[Visionaries] who reach imaginative puberty become aware of an opposition of forces [ie between Father God and Mother Church], and of the necessity of choosing between them. Ahead of them is the narrow gap into eternity, and to get through it they must run away from their protecting parents, like Jesus at twelve, and become adult creators themselves. They must drop the ideas of a divine sanction attached to nature, of an ultimate mystery in the Godhead, of an ultimate division between a human nature and a divine creator, and of recurrent imaginative habits as forming the structure, instead of the foundation, of the imaginative life."

POIGNANT POETRY.

Where to start???! I've narrowed it down to two selections. One's from 19th century English poet and painter William Blake, because he figures so prominently in the citations above. The other is from living legend and Canadian Governor-General's and Griffin Poetry prize winner, Margaret Avison. First, here are Blake's closing lines from "The Everlasting Gospel:"


Jesus replied & thunders hurld
I never will Pray for the World
Once [I] did so when I prayd in the Garden
I wishd to take with me a Bodily Pardon
Can that which was of woman born
In the absence of the Morn
When the Soul fell into Sleep
And Archangels round it weep
Shooting out against the Light
Fibres of a deadly night
Reasoning upon its own dark Fiction
In doubt which is Self-contradiction
Humility is only doubt
And doth the Sun & Moon blot out
Rooting over with thorns & stems
The buried Soul & all its Gems.
This Lifes dim Windows of the Soul
Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
And leads you to believe a Lie
When you see with not thro the Eye
That was born in a night to perish in a night
When the Soul slept in beams of Light.


Here's Margaret Avison from 'In Truth,' from "The Dumbfounding:"

The largeness of mourning,
grief for the known face,
shed an aptitude
for nothing unless certitude.

Words are too many. In this place
loss is torn --
a vividness
lost, out of the sun.

Another's eyes
look now, and say,
one stone-dead face
lived, is, will be:

saw those in prison first,
rose, spoke with his lost friends,
ate honeycomb, and fish.

Though no words but his
speak, in that airlessness,
who hears them is
roused to utterance

& who trusts him in this
learns all, past time: a voice
no deafness drowns, at last
Love, a face.

MEMORABLE MUSIC.

Let's turn to another of Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry's interpretations of the Messiah. On her album "Shushan the Palace (Hymns of Earth), she does a version of Handel's aria, 'I know that my redeemer liveth.' The line is of course from the book of Job. But it certainly captures that 'hope on hitting bottom' sentiment that we fnd in the Passion narratives. To hear a clip of this song, click here, fill in country name and scroll down a bit to find sample: LINK TO JANE'S 'REDEEMER LIVETH' SAMPLE .


AWESOME ART.
Just a few samples of classic images from the garden of Gethsemane.

Here's Wm Blake: BLAKE, AGONY

For the weird symbolism of Hieronymus Bosch, click here: WEIRD WORLD OF BOSCH

Here's CARAVAGGIO

Here's DURER

For something more colourful and contemporary, here's He Qi from 2001: HE QI, PRAYING AT GETHSEMANE .

To find your own favourite in the Web Gallery of Art, click this link: AGONY IN THE GARDEN PAGE, WEB GALLERY OF ART .

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION.

1. Where was the Garden of Gethsemane? What does 'Gethsemane' mean? What kind of garden was it?

2. Why do we call the set stories dealing with Jesus's last days, leading up to his death, the 'Passion' stories. Are the emotions these stories call up what you usually associate with 'passion.'

3. What's the main thing Jesus does in this garden?

4. Does Jesus at Gethsemane seem like the same person who was so in control at the Last Supper? The same person who entered Jerusalem as the 'Messiah' on a donkey? How do you feel he is the same or different? Any suggestions on why that would be?

5. Who was with Jesus at Gethsemane? Did they seem to be on their best disciple behaviour there? Why do you think that might be?

6. What does Jesus's reference to 'cup' make us think of, especially with respect to the disciples?

7. How does Jesus address God in his prayers in the garden? Where have we seen him use this form of address before? What kind of relationship does it indicate? What tone does it establish for the Gethsemane story?

8. What time of day does the arrest of Jesus in the garden take place?

9. Who points Jesus out to the authorities?

10. What signal does he use to indicate Jesus is the one they are looking for? Do you think this is the only instance in the Bible where a character tricks someone he/she loves with a kiss ? [no, Jacob tricks his father Isaac with a kiss.]

11. What other Bible stories have gardens in them? [Eden, peaceable kingdom]

12. What other stories have trees in them? [Eden, Revelation's tree of life]

13. What other tall wooden structure is featured in the Passion/Crucifixion narratives? [cross]

14. What are your thoughts on the close connection between the cross and these other symbolic trees?

***************************WORKSHOPS ******************
ARTS 1

ACTIVITY: MAKE A GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE TERRARIUM. WILL REINFORCE IMAGES OF TREES AND CROSSES IN THIS STORY. PLANTING OF GRASS AND HERB SEEDS WILL HIGHLIGHT THRU NEW GROWTH THE IDEA OF THE IRREPRESSIBILITY OF HOPE.

MATERIALS:
- 2L soda bottle
- exacto knife or sharp scissors
- potting soil
- seeds -- grass, radish, basil, oregano
- small twigs
- gluegun or fast bond white glue
- few toilet tubes, cut into sections
- lg pieces white gravel
- plasticine, clay or DAS for tiny models of sleeping disciples and Jesus, if you wish.

DIRECTIONS:
This activity is basically a combination of a resurrection garden idea, and a Scouts nature craft I've seen, here adapted to represent a prayer garden. Find details on making a resurrection garden at this link: RESURRECTION GARDEN ON DANIELLE'S SPACE . You need to scroll about 3/4 way down the page to find the item subtitled, 'Plant an Easter Garden Craft.'

For our activity, turn the bottle on its side. Cut a nice, big, 3-sided rectangular flap in the top side. Tape this down for ease of filling.

Fill with potting soil. On the right hand side (let's call this the east side), plant your herb seeds. When small, they should resemble olive trees (a bit!) and smell spicy too! You can model tiny human figures for this side of the terrarium.

For the left or west side of the planter, build up a bit of a hill. Make 3 crosses with sticks and glue, and poke in top of hill. Stick toilet tube section in hill for cave/tomb and cover over with soil. Place gravel chunk beside tomb.

Sprinkle grass or radish seed over all. Sprinkle with water. (A few small sandbox watering cans would be great for this!) Press top flap back in place. Take home and watch it grow!


REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN
Ready. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity.

Set. Link or explain your activity to the current story.

Go. EXPRESS YOUR INNER LANDSCAPE ARTIST!

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ARTS 2

ACTIVITY: MAKE LG FELT BANNER, USING KEY PASSION SYMBOLS CUT OUT OF FELT OR OTHER CLOTH. WILL REINFORCE KEY EASTER SYMBOLS.

MATERIALS:
- list of symbols from Bacground Notes to this lesson set
- lg piece of felt, flannel or cotton for 1 banner
- 12 or so 12 x 18 inch rectangles for individual banners
- lots of felt and other cloth scraps, big and small chunks
- sharp scissors (adapt for safety for smaller kids, ie ask them to draw shapes, and adult helps them cut out)
- glue
- lg wooden dowel or
- 12 or so smaller dowels
- small tacks to attach cloth to banner. (Or you can make a casing by folding over and gluing down a 'cloth tube' across the top.)
- yarn lengths to attach for hanging up

INSTRUCTIONS:
This great idea comes from the lesson exchange on www.rotation.org. Here's the direct link to the lesson. Scroll down a bit to find description for this art idea: BANNER ART IDEA ON ROTATION.ORG.

Knowing my kids, I would adapt it so that the kids contribute to one big banner, and at the same time make a smaller one to take home. In my experience, some kids cry if they can't design their own piece and take it home (extremely common with my own kids when they were younger!)

The link above suggests writing symbol names on paper pieces and then pulling them out of a box to see who gets to make what. Again, I'm foreseeing more tears. Lots of kids don't like being stuck with the boring idea (ie my kids!). I think the banners can have lots of crosses and olive branches, etc. Best to roll with the temperament of the kids you're working with.

REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN
Ready. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity.
Set. Link or explain your activity to the current story.
Go. GET SYMBOLIC!

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DRAMA

ACTIVITY: PRODUCE A SLIDE SHOW OR WEB PHOTO ALBUM OF KEY SCENES FROM GETHSEMANE USING COSTUMES AND DIGITAL CAMERA. WILL REINFORCE PLOT POINTS AND MAIN CHARACTERS.

MATERIALS:

- costume box

- potted plants or olive grove mural (against dark sky)

- camera

- shot list provided below

- use of a church computer and photo viewing program, with patch cord for your camera. (If you don't have the above, you can arrange to show slides on someone's laptop. Or take pix home, post to web, and send out link to families for viewing via email later in the week.)


SUGGESTED SHOT LIST (Taken mainly from Matt 26).

i. Jesus and 3 disciples (Peter, James and John) arrive at olive grove.

ii. J. gestures to disc. to 'Stay here.' Think of way to indicate visually he wants them to stay awake. Maybe bring in giant Tim Horton's mug, and have J. hold it up and point to it.

iii. J. off to side, in prayer. Somehow try to look tense.

iv. J. standing over sleeping disc., not looking impressed. Could be shaking them awake.

v. Another cutaway to J. alone in prayer.

vi. 2nd return to sleeping disc.

vii. 3rd cutaway to prayer

viii. 3rd return to dozing disc. Try to make each of these shots look somehow different.

ix. J. wakes them up. Points to a crowd at edge of scene. People in scene are soldiers with swords, ordinary folk holding clubs, others holding torches. Judas is at front of crowd, talking to soldier, pointing to J.

x. Judas gives Jesus kiss of greeting. (Okay, a hug will do for the squeamish!)

xi. Cut to Peter with sword raised against crowd member.

xii. Cut to crowd member holding ear, going Oww.

xiii. Cut back to J. touching ear as if to heal it.

xiv. Shot of disc. starting to take off, looking back over shoulders.

xv. Shot of Jesus being led away by soldiers and crowd.



WHAT TO DO NEXT.

Take pictures of above shots. Whip up props on the fly if you need to, ie sword and shield from const. paper, 'street sign' for 'Gethsemane', paper torch tops, etc.



REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN

Ready. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity.

Set. Link or explain your activity to the current story.

Go. GET DRAMATIC!

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COMPUTER

ACTIVITY: 'ARRESTED' SEGMENT ON LIFE OF CHRIST COMPUTER PROGRAM. IF 2ND ACTIVITY IS NEEDED, RECREATE SCENE USING ANIMATED 'MOVIEMAKER' PROGRAM.

MATERIALS:
a. 'Life of Christ' activity CD, Lesson 32. Here's the short summary from the lesson index:

32. Arrested, Tried, and Tortured (Luke 22:47-23:45). Jesus, the crowds, the priests, the soldiers, and Pilate. Have you ever been accused of something you didn't do?

For an overview of the Life of Christ computer program, click here: LIFE OF CHRIST LESSON INDEX ON SUNDAY SOFTWARE.COM

Note: Make sure the content in the 'Tortured' category is something you feel suitable for your younger kids. Perhaps be prepared to stop the program before that section.

b. Moviemaker program. (We now have the full edition [vs sample]. It has many more character and villains. I think the kids will have a blast adapting this story to full range of Moviemaker characters!)

REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN
Ready. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity.

Set. Link or explain your activity to the current story.

Go. BOOT UP!

All original text 2004 - 2014, LD McKenzie

For a brief site ed's bio, click here:

BIO

Components of these lesson sets may be used for non-profit educational purposes, citing this author and site.

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