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John 12:20-33

Finally the blue sky finally unfurled itself before our wondering eyes—but it sure seems like it has been raining for weeks. And for all that we are told that 

April showers 

Bring May flowers, 

it’s just as true around here that 

March rain brings flood 

and icy cold mud.

Today, though, we have been rewarded: I have seen the first buds on the redbud tree in our front garden. The redbud is grandchild to the wee, timorous stick brought across two states from Oklahoma in a bucket by my dad, who has been gone these last fifteen years.

These nascent buds are beautiful, though transitory. Those same blossoms must fall to the ground to make way for the heart-shaped leaves that will soon provide a canopy of cool shade. Then, in November those leaves too will die and drift to the ground.

So, also, we are reminded in a recent Lenten gospel that the solitary grain of wheat must fall to the ground and be buried before it can bring forth fruit.  Otherwise, it remains a single grain—the original Greek here actually says, “Remains alone.” 

Jesus, through his upcoming passion, will also be nailed on a cross, facing death and feeling abandoned and alone. 

We know this will happen. 

We also know that that cross will then awaken the world to the greatest power on earth—the power of love that does not hold our frailties and sins against us, but calls us to a new life in love.  We know that the cross is not the end for Jesus, but just the beginning of victory. This is what is known in religious lingo as “the Paschal mystery.” Dying leads to rising. And around again.

So the image of the grain of wheat says something first of all about Jesus as the Christ, but second of all it says something about us. Christ transforms death through his own death on the cross, and then rises again to bring light and hope into this divided world. We become faithful by dying to our own divisions and fears and embracing love as Jesus spread his arms of love on the cross.

This is what all of scripture and God’s revelation has been trying to get through our thick skulls all along. 

Our faith doesn’t tell us how to die. 

It tells us how to live. 

It doesn’t tell us what to give up. 

It tells us what we will gain. 

It doesn’t tell us that the world is broken. 

It tells us how to make the world better. Hope springs up where love reigns.

Let us begin.

The Rev. Leslie Scoopmire is a writer, musician, and a priest in the Diocese of Missouri. She is rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Ellisville, MO.  She posts daily prayers, meditations, and sermons at her blog Abiding In Hope, and collects spiritual writings and images at Poems, Psalms, and Prayers.


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