HeArer's Guide to the Passion
Over the next week, we will hear read in worship the story of Jesus' last supper with his disciples, his agony and betrayal in the garden, his trial and condemnation, his crucifixion, death and burial, and then his resurrection from the dead. We call this story, the Passion of our Lord because it speaks of Jesus' suffering and death for us. This story is also called the Message of the Cross. This story is central to faith and life, and it is the power of God for salvation for all who believe. In one way or another, all Christian preaching and action flows from the message of the cross, but this time of year we tend to let this story, as we find it in Holy Scripture, simply speak to us directly -- in passion reading, song and liturgical action.
As we prepare to enter into the mystery of faith, here are some things you can keep in mind as you hear again for yourself the wonderful story of God's love and grace in Jesus Christ. You can read the story for yourself in Mark 11-16.
So what does this mean for us?
Seeds are absolutely amazing ... spiritual things. This one little seed has the potential of becoming a plant many times its size ... a plant that will blossom and bear fruit that will create an abundance of food, as well as more seeds!
You can see why a seed serves as such a powerful spiritual metaphor ... especially as a way of understanding how God’s Word works in our life.
In this week’s Gospel reading from John chapter 12, we hear Jesus saying that unless a seed dies it remains just a single grain, but by dying ... by planting it in soil and water ... it grows to produce abundance of fruit. In order for this seed to become something more than a single seed in a packet on the shelf, it has to be planted.
It’s a way Jesus talks about his own death. Jesus in this case is the seed that will fall in the earth and die so that eternal life can be multiplied and given to all. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, God gives life to the whole world. What’s more by dying and rising and ascending ... Jesus is now present with us and for us ... all of us, everywhere.
In my sermon this week, we’re going to dig around a little to prepare our hearts and minds to receive the seed of the Gospel ... that is, the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection ... by considering how God has acted to save us and the whole world by sending his son to suffer, die and rise again for us.
Next week, as we enter into the Holy Week and Easter, we will simply read and experience the passion story and let the Word speak for itself without comment. But this week, let’s look look to frame the story in a way that will make its hearing ... well, we pray, more fruitful.
So, you could think of my sermon as a little fertilizer... or, on second thought maybe think of it as the spade that turns the soil and gets us ready to hear the good news and mystery of faith, prepares the soil to receive the seed of God’s life giving word for us.
I hope to see you in worship Saturday at 5:30 pm and Sunday morning at 10.
Sunday School starts at 9 am.
And peas ... be with you!
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