Church of England Diocese of Norwich St. Peter, Sheringham

A Meditation for Tuesday of Holy Week - John 12.20-36 - The Seed of Blessing

30 Mar 2021, 8 a.m.
The seed did not know who the gardener was. It knew only that a hand had taken it from the warmth and dryness of the familiar packet it called home and pushed it into the dark brown earth. The cold and darkness was a shock, but nothing like the cascade of water, and the visitation of worms that followed! The seed bent its arms around its tiny body, huddling into itself, trying to keep warm and dry ... to keep alive amid these foreign and unwelcome conditions. When at last it was dug from its earthly grave, the seed was still huddled, still seeking protection, still perfectly preserved, but totally unproductive and lacking life. Here, amid the Coronavirus pandemic of Spring of 2020, we too have been plucked from the comfort of the familiar, and found ourselves pushed down into a threatening environ over which we have little or no control. It is unwelcome. We naturally try to cling to whatever bits of normality remain, and huddle into ourselves for protection. It seems wise, and the isolation it brings is a part of what we are asked to do, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of our neighbour, our nation, and our world. This is our ‘wilderness experience’, and because we do not know what will happen or when it will end, this Lent is much more real than our usual, rather well-organised attempts, with the end date marked in the diary before we have even begun. What light does today’s reading shed on our predicament?Jesus – the one who is talking about the seed – knows his subject from the inside. Thirty-plus years before the events recorded in our reading, he too had been taken by a greater hand and pushed down into the very substance of planet earth. He knew its threats: a birth in precarious circumstances; a king who wanted to hunt him down and kill him; life as a refugee in a foreign land. All these he had known by the age of two! And like us, he had known the temptation to self-protect. To turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger; to do something impressive to gain public acclamation, or to do a deal to gain power and control. He refused.Instead he said his own life is like that seed. It can never fulfil its purpose by seeking to preserve itself, but through relinquishing his own life he will make available new life for everyone: “when I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself”. It is the way of self-sacrifice ... self-giving love that has its eye set on the divine purpose for this divinely-made and divinely-loved world that so much needs to return to its maker. It is not an easy path: ‘Now my heart is troubled ....’ and temptation comes again: ‘Shall I say “Father, save me from this hour? No! It was for this very reason that I came!” Meditation Have a pencil and paper handy. Sit quietly and comfortably. When you are ready become aware of your breathing ... Remember it was the breath of the Spirit of God that first breathed life into Adam ... Ask God to breath the life and insight of the Spirit into you ...Call to mind any experience of gardening you have. Have you planted seeds that have not grown? Remember the hope when you planted – all the potential of life and harvest, and the disappointment that followed ...Remember any times when you have had to ‘sacrifice’ something for the good of others ... Why did you do it ...? What did it feel like ...? In what ways are the limits currently imposed on your life a sacrifice ... and for whom ...? Jot down your emotions as you become aware of them – the ‘good’ ones and the ‘bad’ ones.Can you see your own relinquishing of normal life as a godly thing ...? What difference does this make? Dwell quietly in the knowledge that the God of all creation believes you ... yes, you ... are worth his self-sacrifice ...Say a simple prayer of thanksgiving. M.N. Lent 2020