Dying and Rising
12:24 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. 12:25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.It is Tuesday of Holy Week and today the lectionary text takes us directly into the story of Jesus' journey to the Cross.
In this moment, John's Gospel relates how Jesus begins to make it clear to his followers what he is about to do, and what he's going to endure. Jesus also intimates that there is something at the heart of this holy purpose that is universal and true for all those who choose to follow him.
"Very truly," Jesus says, "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."
At the heart of Jesus' holy purpose is a rhythm that is an integral part of Creation itself. In all of Creation there is this rhythm, this pattern of dying and rising. The rhythm of Resurrection.
This season of Lent began with the somber remembrance of Ash Wednesday: "You are dust, and to dust you will return."
This isn't something to fear. It's part of the rhythm of Resurrection. We return to the very elements from which we are created, and those elements... that stardust... is what makes everything else.
We are all part of this rhythm. And our very lives echo it as we move through seasons of dying and rising. As we stumble through the valleys of shadow, or clamber to the sunlit mountaintops.
This particular season instructs of this truth, this rhythm. We find ourselves in what feels like a season of dying in so many ways. We have given up so much of what matters to us, and there is grief in the midst of it. For some of us, this might bring feelings of dread, or of anxiety.
But when we understand the rhythm, and what Jesus was trying to teach---we very well may begin to feel a real sense of peace and of purpose. This is not the end of something by any stretch of the imagination. It's a beginning.
When I officiate at a funeral, I often add something to the Ash Wednesday declaration about us being dust, and returning to dust: "All of us go down to the dust, but even at the grave we make our song... Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
There's something beautiful about that---a declaration of defiant hope that there is something more to all of this both now and in whatever comes after now.
Richard Rohr once wrote:
When we die before we die, we are surrendering to the Real, to union with /God--now--and therefore later too.When we begin to realize that we are part of the rhythms of Resurrection that are present in all things, we can then begin to see the Holy Mystery of Jesus' dying and rising in a new light.
Because it is only when we are able to surrender our attachments, let go of our fears and embrace the natural rhythms of dying and rising that we will find the strength to rejoice "even at the grave."
During this Holy Week as you stumble after Jesus on this path to the Cross, remember his words, let them wash over you. You are part of this. You don't have to fear it---the dying and rising.
This is the rhythm of Real and Eternal Life--the kind of life that begins now and lasts forever.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.