Lent 5

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Readings:

Sermon: 

Hello, I’m Paula Honniball, Associate Priest in the Benefice of Wychbold, Stoke Prior and Upton Warren.  

“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.”

We see the pattern of loss and renewal quite clearly in nature; in the changing of the seasons and the setting and rising of the sun. The same pattern runs throughout our lives.

If you have you ever fallen in love and committed your life to another, you probably had to let parts of your old life go in order to live well with your partner. Or, if you are a parent, it’s likely you have made many sacrifices in order for your child’s life to flourish. Maybe you’ve had to care for someone and can identify those parts of your life you gave up so that another might live with dignity. Or, perhaps you’ve experienced the costs for an education or a career.  For every choice we make, for every “yes” we say, there is usually a “no”.

In scripture there are many stories of loss and renewal. Innocence in Adam and Eve died so that consciousness might be born. Abram left his country so that he might be made a great nation, and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Jacob lost his old identity and was wounded so that he could become a new man. James and John left their father, boats, and nets to become disciples of Jesus and fishers of people.

Loss and renewal, dying and rising, is at the heart of the Resurrection and also at the core of our baptism.

In our reading from Jeremiah, we hear God’s promise - “I will write my law on their hearts….and they shall all know me…from the least of them to the greatest.”  In order to know God fully we need to be prepared to say “no” to those things that spoil that relationship.

Today’s gospel is set in the context of the Passover feast - a feast that celebrates the Israelites’ liberation from bondage in Egypt. It’s about letting go, leaving behind, and moving into a new life.

Some Greeks come to Philip and say, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” When they tell Jesus about this request, he answers, “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.”  That’s his response to those who want to see him; to the Greeks, to us, to everyone.

And that dying is about more than a physical death. We die many kinds of death throughout our lifetime. The loss of a loved one, a relationship, health, opportunities, a dream; all deaths we didn’t want or ask for. Other times we choose our losses and deaths, giving up parts of ourselves for another. And sometimes there are things we need to let go of, things we cling to that deny us the fullness of life God offers: that may be fear, anger or resentment, regret and disappointment, guilt, the need to be right, the need for approval.

Seeing Jesus, then, is a way to be followed; a life to be lived. It’s being a grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies so that it might bear much fruit. It’s the letting go, the emptying, the leaving behind, and the dying that makes space for new life to arise. That’s when we really see Jesus.

Letting go does not mean rejection or walking away. And it does not mean choosing absence over presence. Instead, it makes room for new life and new ways of being present. Our letting go gives God something with which to work. Why would we want to continue to live as a self-enclosed, single grain of wheat when we can flourish and live fruitful lives?

Throughout Holy Week, this pattern of loss and renewal will be unveiled each day; but we already know it ends at Easter - the empty tomb, the dawn of a new day, and the renewal of life. The single grain becomes, for us, the Bread of Life.

Questions:

  1. Is there something in your life that you are clinging to that you need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you to let go of?
  2. Can you identify, and give thanks for a time in your life when you have let something go and, as a result, something new has begun?


Page last updated: 12th March 2021 3:53 PM
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