The Gospel for the Sunday was:
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very 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. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.John 12:20-36
It’s Spring time and I don’t know about you but I am planting seeds in my garden. It’s also Lent, a season for planting spiritual seeds of faith as we approach Easter. Today we hear Jesus also talking about seeds in our Gospel. I think what Jesus said about seeds was a very important thing and I want to plant that seed in your memory too.
What I want to focus on – demo through seeds
Now I’m going to need some help with this.
I’ve brought some rather special seed packets with me. I need 7 volunteers to help me.
Now these seed packets are a little different to ordinary seed packets. For one – they’re a bit bigger. They also have a very strange thing. Normal seed packets have the seeds on the outside and a picture of what they grow into on the inside. These seeds packets are a bit different. They have a picture of the SEED on the outside, so you can’t tell what they’re going to grow into. It makes you think that if you bought these seeds – all you would get would be exactly what it shows on the seed packet. Lets have a look inside.(we open them each in turn to reveal poppies, pumpkins, sunflowers, wheat, a butterfly, an iris and a passion flower)
So we see all these beautiful things that they might turn into. But they will never be these things if they stay as they are (turn over the cards to reveal the bible quotation)
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.In the passage today, Jesus talks about his forthcoming death and resurrection as being a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying in order that new life can come. Jesus also goes on to link it to what a life of discipleship means
Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.The Bible can sometimes feel like rather a distant story. One about then – about the people of Israel, about the disciples. But in the passage we heard today we have a link. The passage begins with some Greeks wanting to see Jesus. Now, I don’t know if we have any Greeks here today but those Greeks stand for each one of us here. Jesus has been preaching to the people of Israel but this is a point when he declares it is not JUST for them. No Jesus says:
32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
This Good news is not just for the descendents of Abraham, Isaac Jacob and Moses but for everyone.
That’s still a challenge to us today. The Gospel is not just for people who already believe. For people who already come to church. It’s for everyone and God calls each of us to do something about that. For me, helping people work with young people, I seek to engage churches in looking not just at what they are doing within their churches but also at how they are relating to their community. To their schools; to the young people who hang out in their churchyard because there is nowhere to go. Not just to the young though, to parents, to those who are living alone, to the retired.
32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
In the Gospel of John, when he talks about fruit, he means community and in this passage Jesus calls into formation a new community that thinks and lives differently than society.
When we look to serve others, it can often mean we need to give up things for ourselves. This doesn’t mean that we become nothing. It means we become more than we could have been if we had looked only to our own ends. He talks of those who walk with the light.
Those who walk by the Light, meaning Jesus, those who embrace the Light, who allow the Light to penetrate their being and shine through them, they become united as a family of Light, the children of Light, the children of God. Together they shine in the midst of darkness and show the world another way, just as Jesus has. In the face of the cruel violence that puts Jesus on the cross, the children of Light respond by creating a community that bears witness to the Light of Christ, a community that keeps the Light burning even though the world tries to extinguish it. The ember of light kindled by Jesus is multiplied through his followers as they become lanterns aflame with Light for the world. And we can only do that if we, the seed, allow ourselves to be planted.
Each person here is the fruit of seed sown by our Christian predecessors. As the diocesan youth officer, I suppose I’m a bit like a Garden consultant. What seeds are being sown here in Kempsey for the future fruit? I know there are certainly some very gifted young people who work with our youth council and I’m sure there are others. How is Kempsey looking after its garden and its saplings?
God sees each of us as we see normal seed packets. He sees our full potential and the full potential of those around us. Just think what a difference it would make to our world if we, like God, saw everyone not as they are but as the amazing person they could be. Sometimes we focus far too much on what we are now. We look at the world from the inside of a seed packet. We see our safe seed-like experience and shape and want to stay with that.
God sees what we can grow into, what we can transform into. That transformation can bring us to something new and wonderful. A caterpillar to a butterfly and acorn to an oak tree to be built into the beams of a great building, a boat that sails the oceans, or a table where people share a meal.
We have a choice to make: will we simply sit in the seed packet - they're usually made of foil so rather shiny and appealling. Or do we dare to be planted and wait to see what God transforms us into?