Wheat has so much to teach us. My spouse has three strands of wheat tattooed on his forearm. For him, it captures the idea of shalom, God’s reign of peace, where everyone has enough. He bakes bread, and his jobs work to alleviate hunger. I watch him knead the bread, tending to it throughout the day to make sure it rises. I watch him smell the finished loaf, cut it, and serve it to us warm, nourishing us with care. Baking bread keeps him in touch with the earth. It reminds him that he is a creature, part of the magnificent web and cycle of life.
A single grain of wheat is just that, unless it dies. What are the grains of wheat you are clinging to? What in you needs to die? How can you tend to the soil so that your life bears fruit?
My sister is a nurse in the neuro/cardio ICU unit of a hospital. We lived together as young adults. At times, I would notice her walking through her days with a heaviness. It usually meant she had a patient with a tragic story. One night she said to me, “Death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”
We are taught to fight death as the enemy, but we forget the paradox of faith. Death can bring freedom. Death can create space for something new to be born. Jesus tells the Greeks that those who want to serve him must follow him and go where he goes. This is a challenge for us. Where is Jesus? What does it mean to follow Jesus today? If we wander toward the margins, where folks are broken and dying, that is where we belong, where we will see the face of the risen Christ.
God of new life, help me to dwell among the fallen wheat. Give me the courage to die daily, trusting in your everlasting life. Draw me toward the margins, where I can commune with Christ. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. What are the covenant relationships in your life? How do you fulfill your part of the covenant with God?
Read Psalm 51:1-12. What are the things that clutter your heart, limiting your availability to fully love?
Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you offered your prayers “with loud cries and tears” as Jesus did? How does knowing Jesus’ vulnerability impact your life of faith?
Read John 12:20-33. How does this example of the grain of wheat help you to understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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