Monday, March 19, 2012

Dying into Life

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We are having a series of very warm days, extraordinary for these mountains this early in the year. Forsythia is the first plant to bloom in my yard, but it's not completely out yet. These branches are close to the ground. I guess that gave them the courage to blossom. I like this picture of new life bright against the dead leaves. Without the apparent death of winter there would be no new life of springtime.
John 12:23-28 is my favorite passage for a funeral. It is part of this Sunday's Gospel reading. John does not have the scene of Jesus' agony in the garden the night before he dies, that the other three Gospels have. I get some sense of a similar struggle in this passage in John.
Jesus knows that the time is drawing near for his death and tries to make some sense of it for himself as well as for his followers. He says, "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Jesus must die before he can rise to new life. Somehow death holds within it the seeds of new life.
The dying and rising of Jesus makes it possible for each person to go through death into new life. It also helps me to think how the little deaths that I face all through my life give way to a richer life. It seems that there can be no joy without sadness, no full life without suffering.

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