Sermon excerpt: Dying with Hope

  • March 25, 2015
Dying with Hope
March 22, 2015
John 12Good morning. My name is Mary of Bethany. I am here because I understand that you love Jesus and so you might be interested in an evening when he came to my home. My sister Martha and my brother Lazarus and I love it when he comes home. He’ll tell you that he really doesn’t have one home because his family encompasses ALL of God’s children. He has said things like “I have no where to lay my head.” while talking about God’s kingdom. Because God’s kingdom cannot be confined to one place. But WE know. This little house of ours, is his home.

We always know he’ll come through Bethany sometime before the Passover Feast. His mother and father brought him on the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he was a child. That was how we met him. His mother Mary was like a mother to me and my siblings. When they came through Bethany, she would walk into this home and cook up a storm. We felt like royalty when mother Mary came to Bethany.

Preparing the Seder meal is no easy task. Each aspect of our preparations require tender care and exquisite attention. The seder is a precious reminder of the time when our Jewish ancestors were living in exile and God’s love provided food, comfort and eventually freedom. That night, we were beginning the preparations for Passover when Jesus arrived. His mother wasn’t with him this time. When he walked in he seemed distracted and tense. Although even when he was distracted, he was so very present, so it’s hard to say that he was distracted. Martha was in the back preparing food for the meal and Lazarus was resting when he surprised us at the doorway. Instantly, like a flock of clucking hens, we ran into his arms…..

In both our scripture passages today, Jesus is dying.

No one wants to admit that he is dying. No one but Jesus and Mary. When Jesus says, “Leave her alone. She bought this for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me,” he acknowledges the truth that everyone has been denying – and will continue to deny until he is hanging on the cross.In our second passage today, people want to SEE him. We don’t have a clear sense that they want to see him because they think he is dying, but Jesus is clear. “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.”

There it was – hope right in front of them. Jesus was dying with hope, for everyone “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am there will my servant be also.” He was pointing to the resurrection; speaking about love that endures all things, even death.

While the season of Lent dwells on the issue of human hardships and suffering, as experienced by Jesus and all his followers, there is always reason for hope. Love, enduring unending love, is the reason. And love such as this is Easter-love!

And so on this fifth Sunday of Lent, in all its human authenticity, let us hold onto hope confident that Easter is on its way.