Daily Readings in John – Day Forty-Two
November 30, 2017
John 12:20-36a (NRSV)
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 26 Whoever 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. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The 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?” 35 Jesus 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. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
Today, something different from me – a letter to Jesus. Do with it what you will.
(a) Eavesdrop, and pray. (b) Write your own letter. (c) Do something entirely different. (d) None of the above. (e) All of the above.
Jesus, your soul was troubled as you prepared for what might be the end. You watched the dying of the light at sunset, and I’m imagining that in that way that flashes of divine insight – just knowing everything you had no cause to know – may have overcome you. Seeing all the things that happen at night. Perhaps you heard children’s shattering teeth at they trembled in their nightmares of monsters and falls and loneliness. Perhaps you saw the preparation of thieves or the drunken man arriving home to beat his wife before sleeping by her side. Perhaps you smelled the weariness of the old and injured and disabled in their beds.
And this time you let yourself think of yourself as well, of the impending dying of your light. Your compassion and your power, your breath and your consciousness ceasing, and soon. You hoped, you believed this was necessary, and this was the seed’s death that yields great harvest. You’d be lifted up, all people would be drawn, life would return. But could you have known?
I too hate death and dying in all its many forms. I’m a little bit afraid if I let myself stop and think about my elder friends and family, the sick ones too, and wonder how much time they have left. I have this pain in my side today after moving chairs – it will be gone soon, but it never would have happened ten years ago, maybe even not last year or last week. I’m getting older too.
And then I think about the things that ask for my grief, waiting to be remembered in tears. And I imagine the choices I’ve made and the ones that must be made that will shrink my choices, abandon my rights, lessen my options and my pleasures – they will be for the good if I have the courage for completion, but they will each be their own small seed-like death.
Can I trust you today, Jesus, that all life comes from dying seeds? Buried in the ground to decay before their transformation and mixing with soil and light and water and all the other stuff of the earth, they will rise and bear fruit. Could this be true of me and all that I hold dear?
I hope that it is so, because as much as anything else, I too wish to see Jesus, and to be with you Jesus in your dying and rebirth, in your humble place covered in dirt, and in your sprouting up and shooting off leaves and fruit.
May it be so.