Mar18SunPastor Carey's Sermon for the 5th Sunday in Lent March 18, 2018 Pr. Carey
O God, whose Son's death begot life, give us grace to let go of our lives,
like a seed, and fall to the ground that your life might be rooted in us. Amen.
It’s that time of year when those with a green thumb (and those persistent in their hopes of acquiring a green thumb) start to think a little about seeds and upcoming gardens. Spring garden shows are taking place around various cities where experts offer a smorgasbord of possibilities. Even in our planning for VBS this summer we have talked about planting container gardens in the court yard or even using some of the little available green space around the church to create some edibles for the community.
The growth cycle from a seed captures the imagination in an awe inspiring way. It is something Jesus used often to teach the disciples about faith. A mustard seed of faith. Of seeds sowed in rocky, thorny, and good soil. And today as we are drowning near to the end of our Lenten journey, of a seed dying before it sprouts to new life.
The story began with Jesus calling the disciples on the Galilean seashore to Come and See. God, in Jesus invites, Come and See, For you I give all, even myself. I will not leave you empty. I will not leave you alone. For you and the world there is abundance of life. This is what I have come to bring. Throughout his ministry, Jesus throws seeds of hope for all.
Here we are full circle. Now, the greeks are on board with this Come and See invitation. They have come and now they ask to See Jesus. Andrew and Phillip, are the ones to bring this request to Jesus. The good news message of healing and wholeness spread throughout the countryside. Jesus says, Come and see. You that walk by faith, you who doubt, you who are tired and weary, sick, and despairing. You who hunger. You who are filled. Come and see this invitation to life.
The disciples follow the invitation to come. They see Jesus heal the sick, feed the hungry. They see Jesus provide in situations where by any standard and reason there would simply not be enough, and yet miracle of miracles God provides. They see Jesus make well a man sick for 38 years, showing him there is something more for him then disability and exclusion. They see Jesus come near in the midst of a storm offering words to calm fear. They see Jesus restore life to Lazarus, to those who had lost life - sometimes with a whisper of a tiny seed of hope.
They see Jesus do all of this. And although this would surely be mind boggling what comes next is even more so.Jesus teaching goes beyond what is about to come and deepens to include what it means to be a servant. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. What it means to be a disciple is now not so easy. Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, he uses this parable to tell his beloved community he will depart from the world, with the image of a seed. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
The imagery of the Gospel text connects easily with us on some levels. This simple image of – seed to sprout – arising out of the earth is what we’ve seen over and over again. Even if the seeds we put into the ground are not dead but living. Yet, over and over again we are surprise to imagine the enormous source of life contained in something that appears so small and inconsequential. On a whole other level this stark image of death before life is so foreign to our human understanding, it must be of God. It is only by faith, that something that has died can grow to life. If God is present in a tiny seed that has died, well where then is God not present?
Certainly this life in death paradox gives meaning to our lives in the here and now.
In this great reversal, this turning of tables, God is made know and glorified in the places and people we’d never look.
To lose–is to find,
to die–is to live,
to give–is to get,
to be poor - is to be rich,
to be hated (rejected) - is to know love and eternity
in dying the grain of wheat moves beyond death to life…
Our faith lives, in many ways mimic the parable of the grain of wheat.
This is our baptismal covenant-
Daily we die so that we may rise to new life. So that this new life of Christ might be rooted in us, and in our community.
In our baptism, the water and word sets us free to live.
When we come to what seems like a the end of the road, we might allow for the possibility of a new beginning.
When we venture into the unknown. We bury some old ways of doing things- it has always been done this way - to let God present another way forward.
When we let go of that which is no longer important. We grasp onto the what is of consequence in the here and now. A tiny seed about to sprout in front of us.
Oh those - the tiniest of seeds - cradled in our hand. So small it could blow off with a gust of wind. Planted in the soil. Covered with earth. Nurtured with sunlight, water and good soil. Buried it remains. Until, before our very eyes, a delicate sprout comes up out of the ground. It begins to strengthen and form its own distinct character, with shapes and colours, smells and purpose, all unique to this little tiny seed.
On our own, I would hazard a guess that the grain of wheat envisions a future we wouldn't otherwise be able to imagine. Where God is glorified in the letting go, in the dying, in the end of the road. Now the door has been opened. In these moments - there is God. A tiny seed, in you in me, in the outcast and stranger. In an idea offering the hope of a better quality of life to someone. And our very lives, like Jesus’ become a fitting Doxology - marked by God's ongoing love for us - that sing, Glory to God in the highest.
The peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen