|A century plant on Echo Mountain above Pasadena 2013|
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.There are many times I lament that we take two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes two or even three back. On so many days we feel like we're backsliding. The story unfolding in Indiana with its recent laws permitting discrimination seems just like this to me.
Sometimes, I weep as we lose friends and family. We at times can say goodbye, other times we're not given the opportunity to say goodbye in person. Loss always seems to much worse when it's something or someone you love dearly. The backsliding feeling can overwhelm us.
And yet, in so many ways, that loss is our own, something that reflects personal needs and desires. John 12 reminds us that what we see and feel masks the big picture. Sometimes we have to see things differently. It's hard to do that. As people, we need love and memories and laughter and joy. Lose a source of that joy and we sense an injustice has been done. We've been robbed of our happiness.
From this, we mourn. We rage. We despair.
But shaking our fist at the sky doesn't accomplish much. Moreover, we might not realize, like the apostles in John 12, that we're seeing things too closely, that we aren't seeing the big picture. Because it's not just a matter of scattering the seeds that we get many plants. We have let the seeds die and create a nurturing environment in the soil to get an even greater abundance of life. We have to let go of what we loved into the soil, then care for what we have buried.
And the God who is love is what gets the seeds to spread. In the soil, from which they came, the seeds eventually bring new life, more life. Yes, from the ashes, we bring the new. With help, the circle since Ash Wednesday becomes complete as we grope our way to Easter. But we have to be intentional about our care, our nurturing, our love. Jesus in John 12 teaches us to change our way of thinking if God is make life out of death. We have to play our part, to serve, to suffer, to bring healing. The seed will lie dormant without us and God.
I don't know if Easter is a celebration or a call to action. Maybe it's both. Easter is about life made new. How can we gain from that without first burying the seed AND watering it? May you bury your pains, heal with soil watered from your tears, and find life made new.