Archive for March 25th, 2012

John 12:20-33 “The Hour Has Come” JUMC 20120325.1100

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever 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. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. –NRSV

The Gospel of John is the last of the four Gospel penned. There were possibly 40-60 years between the time Mark’s Gospel account was written and John’s. That’s covers a great deal of history, destruction, and change in the region. John writes to give non-Jewish folks a clear path to belief through Jesus Christ.

It is therefore likely that John recounts the turning point of Jesus ministry and life. These strangers show up in town for a Greek festival and all the parties and they find their way to the Jesus gang and want to see Jesus.

Jesus clearly came, as a Jewish person, into a Jewish culture and heritage, but his message, witness and work was not only for that one people. God is interested in all our hearts.

Jesus begins talking about his death in metaphors, similes, illustrations and parables of his dying. In Luke’s Gospel, it is in the mountain foothills of Mt Nebo that Jesus gathers with his disciples in the face of numerous alters, statues and differing religious directions and asks: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” It is when they choose Jesus and “Get-it” as we say, that he “sets his face toward Jerusalem” and the cross.

In John’s Gospel it is again in the face of religious diversity that there is a sign that turns the faith journey toward the cross and Jesus’ death.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.

But that is the part of the story we have heard and too often where we stop and dis-engage.

Verse 25 is the Sign that Jesus was Waiting to see
Verse 25 is the Urgency of the moment
Verse 25 is the Definitive Call to Action
Verse 25 is the Awesome and Weighted hinge for our Faith.

25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also

The first few verses there help us understand why Jesus must die. His life is the seed of God’s gracious work that will bear fruit in us. But the seed can’t do it’s thing if it is not buried in the ground. (Yes, I have seen the hydroponics gardens and ask you not to get lost in the image of traditional vs post modern methods of agriculture.)

Yes, Jesus’s death is transplant, swapping Christ’s life and faithfulness for our broken and sinful hearts.

But we know that part… What we slide right through on our way to Easter is this verse 25.

The love-hate relationship for our physical life verses our spiritual life. This is not a battle with the devil; the ruler of this world is no longer our nemesis.

The struggle and battle is with ourselves.

  • Is it my way or God’s highway?
  • Is it my stuff or God’s good gifts?
  • Is it my temporary or God’s eternal?
  • Am I following “I” or “I Am”? Who is leading whom?

The solution is step down from the lead, let go of the lead and follow Christ.

For some this is a relief and a release that feels like freedom. For the rest of us… it defines the struggle we must face NOW or risk loose this gift and life we talk and think instead of trust and live in with Jesus Christ.  The Hour has come to take a stand by stepping down.


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Jeremiah 31:31-34 “The New Contract with America and well, everyone else..” JUMC 20120325.0900

29 In those days they shall no longer say: “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” 30 But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. 31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. -NRSV

Last week I got in trouble with snakes, this week I’m dancing with politics. Before you run to assume anything, I hope that I have your attention: But it is interesting to look back at the history, politics, and faith of God’s people way back then and hear God speaking in our history, politics and faith right now.

The prophet Jeremiah was a truth-sayer. No I didn’t say soothsayer. No he was not a smooth speaker, but he was an eternally hopeful messenger of God’s unfolding works and words. While it seems rare to think of a truth telling, straight-forward political figure, Jeremiah had the ear of the people and ear of the leaders. His words of hope and promise continue to ring true. Oh, that sounds dangerously close to our political jargon.

What the prophet says, both to our ears and theirs then, is: God is making a new covenant. Previous covenants had been made with people on behalf of all the people of God. Adam and Eve for their offspring. Noah and Mrs. Noah had the rainbow promise; Abraham and Sarah for their kin counted the stars with their great-great grand’s. Moses, Aarron and the rowdy folks out of Egyptian bondage had the wilderness survival and Promised Land and tablet prescriptions.

Covenants have always been a contract of grace between God and people. God promises to keep the deal even if we break it. Where does that always end up? Broken Promises. Lost Hope. And Empty words: Basically, out of relationship on all accounts.

So the prophet Jeremiah tells about God striking a new deal. One where the contract is still made in grace but it will be made with God and God’s son and the benefits will affect our hearts and relationships. And It will no longer be what we know or say. It will not be what we wear or what language we speak. It will be a matter of God’s heart and each of our hearts.

The passage begins with Jerry talking about sour grapes. Have you ever tried to win the BLAME GAME? It is easy to find players, you can blame anyone for anything and try to feel justified and correct by not being the one holding the red-hot potato at the end of the dance. Trouble is, even if you find someone who seems to have a potato that fits perfectly in their hands, you don’t actually find justice simply by assigning blame. That didn’t stop people form playing then or now.

But here some of the most grace-filled words of the Old Testament. “God is about to write the answers on our hearts and the new city and temple that God will build can never be destroyed.. All we have to do is accept that we are beneficiaries. (Leave the church in your estate plans… its just a good way to continue to do good for God.)

SO WHAT? This new deal for the world is revealed, at the right time, in Jesus Christ. Jesus keeps our end of the new deal and covenant. We are justified not by blame, rather by God’s faithfulness on our behalf. Our heart is in God’s hands…

..Unless we trust our hearts else where. As we move closer toward Easter Sunday, we are reminded that our individual faith journey is moving into this relationship of grace through Christ, or we are not.

So don’t be trusting your heart to things the fail, ideas that conflict, promises broken, markers that measure the world, When God already gives us God’s heart to guide our own…

Repent, Run and Renew yourself in Christ.
This is how we claim and reclaim God’s new covenant.. do it.

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