Very truly, I tell you, 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.
Spring is such a good time to encounter this text. The image of a seed planted, sprouting, blossoming evokes hope and possibility for us. Pass the word around, loaves abound!
This, of course, is the context, perhaps even the antidote to the agony Jesus acknowledges in the second part of this lesson that, on its face, may seem not to connect—especially given the voice of affirmation that comes from heaven. My soul is troubled, Jesus acknowledges, as he anticipates the loss of his life. He is tempted: “Save me from this hour.” Yet he moves from the uncertainty of that seed, buried, out of sight, dead, to the newness that always comes with God’s presence: “I will glorify it,” the voice affirms. Such has been the way. It always will be.
Here is a good word for those of us who fear losing our way of being, whether a life lived in comfort by virtue of our relative privilege as white, as male, as heterosexual, as educated, and especially if you tick all the boxes! Accustomed to controlling the narrative, we too may wish to be saved from this hour, or do everything we can to preserve it ourselves.
Unless a seed die…
The mysterious truth of this gospel is that new life, abundant life, kingdom life is found in the dying. Our future is found in our giving ourselves to it, our giving up of ourselves for it, our giving ourselves to those voices long silenced in affirmation and attention and subservience. Prepare the way. God is doing a new thing. If we wish to be a part of it, this is the path.
Enter into worship.
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