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Friday, March 23, 2012

5th Sunday of Lent, Year B

"God always comes closely attached to the worst violence and greatest depravation, stuck to it as its obverse in compassion. When we see that, every such event becomes a revelation of sin and a window in which we perceive divine pain."
"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Lent 5, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

Prayer
Hear, O God, the eternal echo of the prayers ands upplications your Son offered when, to establish the enw and everlasting covenant, he became obedient even unto death on the cross.  Through all the trials of this life, bring us to a deeper, more intimate share in Christ's redeeming passion, that we may produce the abundant fruit of that seed that falls to the earth and dies, and so be gathered as your harvest for the kingdom of heaven.  We ask this through Christ, with whom you have raised us up in baptism, the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on John 12:20-36
Jesus has finished his public ministry.  The arrival of the Greeks reminds us of 3:14ff: that the world is being saved through the lifting up of the Son.  Even sheep not of his own fold are being drawn near as the time arrives.  We ourselves, reading through John's Gospel arrive at the essential truth that the mission of the cross is not to be stopped.  God, in Christ Jesus, is recreating the world.  The grain is replanted, and new fruit is to grow and thrive; a gospel fruit of salvation.  The cross is itself forever changed such that it shines a light on the disciple's life and upon the world revealing truth and making known that which has been hidden: God will not stop the drawing to himself of his creation or his creatures.

There is a great deal of debate over the Passover imagery between scholars.  Yet, for the Christian there is ultimately a clear understanding that it is we who are passing over through the sheol of death into a promised land by virtue of Jesus (like Moses' own staff) being lifted upon a cross, descending into the dead, and rising on the third day.  This is the vulnerability of courage and the power of love overcoming death itself.

As Jesus' ministry comes to an end so ours in the mean time begins. Our work is to begin the sowing of the seeds. To scatter the birds, to remove the rocks and weeds, and to make sure that the seeds of individuals are carefully planted within the earth that they may truly be transformed and reborn; growing and bearing fruit.  We are to create safe spaces for people to become vulnerable to the workings of God's love.   And, we are to do this for ourselves first; making sure we are planted carefully and fed upon the wellspring of the waters of life.

I was touched today at the opening of the Texas Children's Pavilion for Women as one of the primary philanthropist spoke passionately about her desire to be apart of projects which are transformative.  I was touched by the transformation through vulnerability spoken about by Brene Brown in her TED talk which can be found here or here. Both women speek to me of the challenge of transformation and being involved in transformative work where "vulnerability is itself the birthplace of innovation and change."

We are to be at work.  We are to allow the work of the cross to first shine a light on our own arc of transformation and pilgrim journey.  We are to engage and embrace our own vulnerability.  We are to follow its direction and seek our own change by the grace of God.  We are then to preach to, lead, and help organize a mission which itself transforms the world around us.  This is the kind of organization we wish to be part of. This is the kind of church we long to be.

We are to be the one's - through the proclamation of the Gospel of Salvation and the witness of the uniqueness of God in Christ Jesus - bear fruit from the deep nature of our own vulnerability that is worthy of our salvation. 
All of this begins with us, our own vulnerability and our own willingness to be vulnerable to others, and to the Gospel and cross.  Only then does our old life end and our new life begin.  Perhaps only then will others  be drawn to our witness.

For it is the world of false courage, a lack of vulnerability, and a willingness to reject transformation and rebirth that allows and leads to abuse, the crucification of others, and ultimately the shaming of the week and poor.


A Little Bit for Everyone





John 12:20-36
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.

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