Today is ‘Tuesday of Holy Week and our gospel reading is John 12.20-26 Where Jesus talks about the mystery of new and abundant live coming through dying. He likens his coming death to a seed having to fall to the ground so that it can produce multiple seeds.
The symbols you are invited to use with today’s meditation are the stone and a seed, perhaps a grain of wheat or rice
If you don’t already have them with you, I suggest you pause this and find them for yourself.
I invite you now to settle down, sit comfortably in a space where you can relax and be attentive to this time of prayerful meditation.
Let yourself stop, perhaps close your eyes and become still and more relaxed.
Take time to be aware of God’s welcoming you to be present as you come to be with Christ today.
As you settle, become aware of how you are feeling about coming to this time today. Your hopes, your concerns. Notice your desire to be with Jesus.
Tell God, simply openly, and ask for God’s grace to help you in this time.
I invite you to look at your seed, notice its size, its shape, its feel, its colour. Notice its apparent lifelessness. Yet this seed contains everything in its makeup to generate a new plant. Ponder the preciousness of this miracle of creation – how as a natural part of life, this cycle of growth, of seed production then the point when the plant abandons the seed, letting it fall to the earth, so that in due season the seed germinates and becomes a new plant. This natural cycle of life – the miracle of creation is happening all the time in many different and varied places. Let yourself as you feel the seed, be awed by the miracle of creation.
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.
Jesus goes on, with more challenging words, recognising our human tendency to hold on to what is in our grasp, ‘those who love their life lose it…
For a moment, grip your stone tightly – is this tight grip symbolic of things in your life you hold onto tightly?
Is there something of your tight grip that means you have lost something of its joy?
Whoever serves me must follow me… are these words calling you to loosen your grip
Let your grip relax, slowly open your hand so the stone is lying ungripped in the palm of your hand… let the seed lie in the open palm of your other hand
Can you entrust what you have been holding onto, into the holding of God
Whoever, serves me, the Father will honour…
Let yourself notice the Father honouring your letting go…
Take time to talk to Jesus about what has emerged for you…
Notice any response from him
Ask for help in your letting gos, and your entrusting…
O Lord hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee.
Tomorrow is Wednesday in Holy Week and our gospel reading will be John 13.21-27 Where Jesus talks about his betrayal.
The symbol that I suggest you find to go alongside your stone is something broken, perhaps a piece of broken crockery
The psalm that can be read before listening to the podcast is Psalm 88
May God bless your Holy Week journey.
Reflections on a Grain of wheat
Jesus’ teaching about how we live, using the analogy of the way the natural cycle of seeds produces abundant growth gets to one of the key paradoxes of life and faith. By letting go, new life is possible.
I was struck as I prepared for this by two things that I hope this session gives some space for pondering.
Firstly, how extraordinary the natural cycle of life and flourishing is. I have the enormous privilege of spending time each year in my home country of South Africa, in an area that is a biosphere reserve where Fynbos vegetation (a unique and extraordinarily diverse collection of plant species) has been growing virtually unhindered by human intervention since the beginnings of plant life in the area. It is the most wonderful thing to walk amongst it and see the diversity and how natural growth and the processes of nature (wind, rain, fire) have engendered such beauty. All of this fabulous plant life is dependent on this cycle of growth, life, death, new life. Many of these plants in fact only regenerate when burnt. Just last month we were marvelling at how the nearby area, ravaged by fire a year before was regenerating – new life abounded. I am utterly moved by the marvel of this regenerative cycle of creation. It is so strange how our human instincts so often behave counter to this wonder. We’d soon hold than let go, even to the promise of something wonderful beyond. Our willingness to trust, or entrust ourselves to this marvel can seem bonkers intellectually, but really difficult to do at an emotional level. Jesus affirms it, it is at the heart of Christian spirituality, but its still easy to resist, if not battle against.
The consequence of this battling against is the second thing that struck me from Jesus’ words as I prepared. ‘Those that love their life lose it’. Emerging from my pondering these words was the sense in which, when we resist letting go, we become more and more tense, battling more and more to resist truth or reality. Battling at times to create an alternative reality. (Politicians and advertisers seem past masters at this!) The consequence being that our enjoyment of life is seriously diminished. Life literally loses its joy, and so by holding on to life, we lose it! Perhaps not to death, but to a death of joy. John of the Cross, is perhaps one of the best exponents of this dynamic. Not only did he discover profound joy while incarcerated for months in a castle latrine by his fellow monks, but he could write the most sublime poetry about how in the darkest of nights, the flame of love comes to meet him. His life had taught him how to let go and discover abundant life the other side.