Saturday, 24 March 2012

Now, the hour has come

John 12:20-33 

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:
‘Now the hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.
Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say:
Father, save me from this hour?
But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!’
A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.
‘Now sentence is being passed on this world;
now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself.’
By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

God has entrusted me with myself.  ~Epictetus

A prophetic and poignant Gospel of the most mysterious and fearful of transformations - death. 

There are many comments regarding life and death; comments that seem appropriate and realistic whilst life is having the upper hand but cliched and  cold when Death steps out of the shadows.

These very comments of Jesus - likening human life to a plant's seed would seem cynical if we didn't know that he knew the fate that is awaiting him. 

It is a challenge to see yourself as the work of the Sower; no more than a ear of grain, the produce of one spring and one summer. To be rooted in the earth and yet reaching towards the sun. To know your own struggles through storms and frost and bask in the joys of warm winds and gentle sunshine. Then to face the inevitability of the Reaper as the days begin to shorten. 

In this country the clocks go forward today into British Summer Time - an hour lost in our hurry towards the lengthening days. How often we throw such hours aways in boredom, procrastination and impatience? How much we claim mindfulness and stillness for our spiritual practices but live out our daily lives in the scurrying between here and there? 

How much we worry about the meaning of life and divert ourselves from the meaning of our death. 

Jesus knows that his death, as painful as it will be will take him into glory; will take him to his Father; and that through it the world will be changed, yet, despite all the promises he makes us; we share more readily in his fears. 

Maybe, for us, it is better after all that we concentrate on how we live. That our lives will involve more than being busy; being successful; being comfortable. Particularly, that our lives will not be self-centred; about us and our needs. 

Then, what is left after we have gone will be glorious -  the inspiration we have given others; the friends we didn't know we had; the good example we didn't realise we were setting; the hospitality we don't remember; the kind words we have forgotten. 

The true harvest of our lives.

Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace. 
Kent Nerburn 



claire said...

Maybe, just maybe, Jesus was not sure that his death would lead him into glory. Maybe it was just an inner certainty that all the signs he had received led him to such an end. And he trusted the signs. But he may well have remained in complete darkness from the moment he started on that path. Just holding onto that trust in the One who had sent him...

As usual, a most inspiring post, Word. Thank you.

Word in the Hand said...

As you say Claire, sometimes we see the signs and carry on regardless. Jesus teaches us to trust through his fear and his fearlessness,

sattler said...

This is wonderful. I read it through four or five times. How hard it is to quantify the significance of a life. Those words, acts of hospitality, gestures, works of mercy. We look through a keyhole at their impact. Very rarely we get a glimpse. I remember years ago visiting a church where a couple spoke to me after the service. They told me they had fostered in response to a sermon I preached on hospitality. I hardly knew what to say but so much appreciated the encouragement.

Philomena Ewing said...

Great thoughts here. I think too of of people who never get any confirmation or consolation but nevertheless plod on regardless.
I think of the contemplative monks and nuns and any workers who slog at thankless tasks but who somehow manage to radiate joy.