Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Proper 9, Sixth Sunday After Pentecost July 8, 2012 Sermon, Proper 9, Year B 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13
Proper 8, Fifth Sunday After Pentecost July 1, 2012 Sermon, Proper 8, Year B Lamentations 3:21-33; Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Mark 5:21-43
Proper 7, Fourth Sunday in Pentecost June 24, 2012 Sermon, Proper 7, Year B Job 38:1-11, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; Mark 4:35-41
Proper 5, Second Sunday in Pentecost June 10, 2012 Sermon, Proper 5, Year B (Second Sunday of Pentecost) Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Trinity Sunday, Year B June 3, 2012 Trinity Sunday, Year B Isaiah 6:1-8; Ps 29; Romans 8:12-17;John 3:1-17
Day of Pentecost, Year B May 27, 2012 Day of Pentecost, Year B Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Sixth Sunday in Easter, Year B May 13, 2012 Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B May 6, 2012 Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; I John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year B April 29, 2012 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
Third Sunday in Easter, Year B April 22, 2012 Second Sunday of Easter, Year B Luke 24:36b-48
Second Sunday in Easter, Year B April 15, 2012 Second Sunday of Easter, Year B John 20:19-31
Easter, April 8, 2012 April 8, 2012 Sermon, Easter Sunday, Year B Mark 16:1-8
Good Friday, April 6, 2012 April 6, 2012 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012 April 5, 2012 Maundy Thursday John 13:1-35
Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B March 25, 2012 Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B John 12:20-33

 

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B

Sermon Date:March 25, 2012

Scripture: John 12:20-33

Liturgy Calendar: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B


The season of Lent began with these words.  “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

At the Ash Wednesday service at the beginning of Lent, we received ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross.  We left the service, branded with this sign, not only as reminder of our mortality and sinfulness, but also as a sign to us of God’s incredible graciousness to each one of us even in our unworthiness.   

How fitting that now, on this last Sunday of Lent, we focus once again on these Lenten themes of mortality and sinfulness and God’s graciousness toward us, found woven throughout the scripture readings for today. 

And how fitting that Jesus sets a question before us that addresses these themes.   

And that question is, “How shall we choose to live the rest of our lives, starting here and now?”   

Jesus says that  “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” 

In other words, when we base our lives only on the fact that we are mortal, and we live as if this life is all there is for us, we eventually lose the potential to grow—  

However,  if we live our lives in the light of God’s gracious mercy toward each and every one of us, we find our small mortal lives expanding into an immense capacity for growth that will bring forth a rich harvest.   

In the gospel reading today, Jesus uses a visual image for the choices we have in living our mortal lives in the light of God’s mercy toward us. 

We have the blessing of seeing this visual image played out in this part of Caroline County every spring.   

The fields, clothed in their winter dress of tan, ecru, brown, and taupe, seem lifeless for several months. 

And then, one morning, the slightest flush of green creeps across the brown earth like a faint misty watercolor, and then as the days progress, the green grows into strong brushstrokes of rich green hope, new growth, the promise of a plentiful harvest.   

This miraculous transformation of a seemingly barren and lifeless field into lush new life did not happen by itself. 

Last fall, a farmer planted hard little lifeless looking seeds, and  they fell into the  barren earth, lay dormant during the winter, and then, with warmer weather, germinated and became that rich green hopeful growth that we see laid out across the fields. 

In the planting, the seed lost its original form, and by “dying” to that form, it grew into something totally new and life giving. 

Our lives, when we choose to live only as mortal human beings, are like those hard dry little seeds, little seeds that we hoard and treasure and save up, which eventually turn to nothing but powdery dust.    

But when we choose to live in the light and warmth of God’s graciousness, we grasp the courage to give up who we are, so that we can become who God longs for us to be.   

Like that grain of wheat Jesus talks about, we grasp the courage to bury ourselves in  the rich earth of God’s mercy and love, so that we can germinate, and grow, and, with God’s help,  bear much fruit. 

Jesus grasped the courage to die on a cross.  Ironically, Jesus was already the epitome in his mortal life of who we, as Christians, long to become.  Jesus could have avoided death, continued to do his good works on earth of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, forgiving sinners, healing the sick, and casting out demons– and people would have continued to benefit from his presence.   

But Jesus knew that he must not hoard up and save who he was, as good as that seed was.  

Instead, he says that he has come to “this hour,” the hour of his death, the time that we will enter into with him during Holy Week. 

Jesus chooses to bury himself in what he knows to be God’s gracious love and mercy, which has the appearance of a lifeless wooden cross. 

This barren, seemingly death dealing cross is like that barren field into which the seed falls.  On the cross Jesus chooses to complete his life of loving service to all of humanity. 

He gives up his mortal life and in doing so, glorifies his Father, the Father that Jesus trusts absolutely as loving, merciful, and gracious, even in the midst of trouble, suffering, and death. 

Jeremiah tells us that this merciful God is the One that we can all come to know, every one of us, from the least of us, to the greatest of us, the God who forgives our sins, and remembers our sins no more.

God is the One who looks with compassion on the whole human race, even though we human beings are the one part of creation that had and continues to have the audacity to lift Jesus  up into death, where he becomes  nothing more than a corpse on a cross.   

But God does not let this human lifting up of Jesus into death on a cross end in dust and ashes in a borrowed tomb.   

Instead, God lifts up the dead body of his Son into resurrected life, and in this lifting up, Jesus becomes the green and growing hope that leaps up in us and lifts our hearts into the hopeful possibilities  of an immense spaciousness of new and unending life, eternal life in God. 

Jesus lifts us through the cross, and all of creation, into the infinite compassion and creativity and new life that God longs to give each one of us, starting here and now.   

Jesus says, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”   

This season of Lent has presented us with a choice. 

We can continue to choose hoarding up who we are, following only ourselves,  only to find that in the end that  we and our selfish dreams are nothing but dust and ashes, 

Or we can choose to die to the small selves that we are and to serve Him through our service to others,  so that we can grow into that newness of life that lasts forever–God’s gracious and merciful gift, new life springing up in all who would turn and follow Him.   

Amen. 

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