Grain of Wheat
Tony E Dillon Hansen
Sermon based upon John 12:20-33, Psalm119, and Jeremiah 31:31-34
As a gardener, when I read the scriptures that talk about seeds or grains of wheat, I immediately relate. I also think that is one of the reasons that the Bible makes sense to people in farming communities because the Bible originates from similar experiences and methods in that ancient agriculture society.
My how some things change and some things stay the same. I still have to prep the garden beds, prep seeds for sowing, and do spring cleaning - Discipleship.
When Jesus talks about grains of wheat, Jesus is really talking about us as people, even for gluten-free folks. Look at the rich metaphor from John “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. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. ”
Jesus is describing how we can grow and flourish with God or be trampled by whims of society.
This passage falls in the context of the farewell discourse in John. Jesus gives us this grain of wheat metaphor as one more lesson before the ultimate sacrifice – full of pain, agony and death. Remember, Jesus gives all of himself and does this for our salvation.
Thus, Jesus wants us to be the stewards of God’s garden to take care of the community and creation. So this image of a seed of wheat is even more powerful when we consider that a seed (a grain of wheat) gives all of itself into being what God makes of it. (Just like Jesus did.) The seed could exist among other seeds in a pile. That is alluring to people to just sit with the pile like many others, but God calls to us to be so much more than just a seed.
God, the gardener, has plans (if you choose to accept the mission) – We could queue the Mission Impossible music.
Ironically with God, our mission is possible because we focus and turn to the One who gives us so much light and purpose. When we do this, we don’t have to worry about withering on the roadside of social materials and distractions being trampled and forgotten. God cares for us and gives us gifts of life and freedom to grow. Like all gardeners, God talks to us the growing plants so that fears can be rested and joys lifted. Are you listening?
God is speaking (calling) to us to do good works. Thus, hear your call to discipleship (to follow Jesus) - another great reason why we celebrate this Lenten season. Sometimes we forget to open our ears, eyes or hearts - I know. So open them up!
We know that following Jesus is tough but well worth the effort. We know that following Jesus means speaking up for social justice while calling out hateful and bigoted rhetoric. We must live out and bring forth God’s truths. We are called to do God’s work of caring for others even when it is not convenient.
That is discipleship, and additionally, we cannot forget ourselves. That means living and caring for our own selves so that we can share God’s grace through our refreshed, re-focused souls.
As I said, these past few weeks have seen a measure of spring cleaning.
Discipleship means it’s spring cleaning time - not only our gardens and homes, but our lives and our souls. We have to make room for some Jesus and God to bring forth life into us and with us. If we walk around with closed hearts and minds, we leave no room for God to work in us. If we let society weigh us down with baggage and distractions, we may lose sight of truth and our real relationship with God. So empty the clutter of your soul. Clear it!
Yes We will fail, and we fall victim to the easy, accessible and convenient rather than the more challenging tasks of walking and following Jesus. That happens and the good thing is that God is willing to show us the way. So empty the ugly clutter.
That is perhaps why people come to Jesus from all over, the east, the west, the north and the south – and regardless of beliefs or their affiliations. People came to see Jesus because hope is important versus the mundane and distractions of society.
They cleared distractions /clutter. They, those ancient grains of wheat wanted to grow, just like you. They found time to see Jesus – so can you!
Clear the distractions by periodically (like Lent) do some cleaning of our lives, our homes and our souls. So too, we must tend to this personally, as a church and for all God’s creation. What can you do in your life to clear clutter, to clear distractions and to find the holy in your life so that you and your love can grow. What can you do to help your love blossom like spring tulips, or summer Iris?
That is why Lent can be such a celebration because we can learn to celebrate removing clutter and finding refreshed spaces to flourish and grow – just like a well-kept gardens with blossoms and produce!
Every year, I take old papers and spend a moment burning the ones I don’t need to keep. We don’t have to hold a bonfire nor require beverage, but we can have personal celebrations that take in a moment of success with God. We can take in that moment and look for how we create space for the sacred to happen in our lives.
Then, as we read last week, we remember that God so loves the world, that we were gifted with so much! We can revel and be thankful to God for opening our eyes, our ears, our hearts as well as space in our homes to make way for the Holy in our lives.
When we do this, we will experience gardens of possible because we become true caretaker’s of God’s kingdom right here among us. When we offer the hand and walk with our struggling neighbors, we do God’s work and remember what Jesus taught us.
So take care of yourselves, of your Church, of your community, and of God’s creation because we have the possible from God. In the garden of God, we have the freedom to grow and to become more than we ever were! In this garden of God, let us bear fruit of love and fully blossom before God and all the world to witness.
If nothing else, let this guide you. You are a grain of wheat means you are the possible because you are a child of God.
Thanks Be to God!