Let’s Plant Some Seeds 3-22-15

This week’s sermon is based on John 12:20-33. Jesus shares a micro-parable in the midst of teaching during his final week of life. In the parable he talks about the need for a seed to die before it can bear fruit. I take this concept and connect into baptism, as a brother and sister were baptized during worship.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/lets-plant-some-seeds-3-22-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Last Friday turned into one heck of a fine day didn’t it? Bright and sunny and warm. Just one of quite a few beautiful days that we’ve experienced in the past few weeks as this unseasonably warm March sneaks past us.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying all this gorgeous weather just as much as everyone else…but I have to admit to being somewhat pessimistic about its longevity…I’ve been talking to a lot of different people throughout the course of the past several weeks…and in each instance, when the weather comes up I’ve said the same thing. “Boy its sure nice, and I’ll take it…but I don’t expect it to last.” (pause)
Its just so early isn’t it? And it feels like we’re cheating…having it be so great this early in the year…and perhaps we’re all thinking the same thing…its not gonna last…winter is going to rear its head again. We’ve all seen the horrible March weather…and the unexpected April snowstorms…even after gorgeous warm weather…and so while we love the weather we’ve been having, I don’t think anyone is ready to declare it springtime yet. (pause)
But maybe we should…Friday marked the first day of Spring…at least in terms of the season on the calendar…so whether we want to admit it or not, it is “Officially” springtime. But like many of you out there, I don’t judge seasons by the calendar…but by what nature is actually telling us…and I have to admit…that nature seems to be saying that spring has arrived.
I’ve been seeing robins hopping around for a couple weeks now…there are little tints of green springing up in many of the lawns around town…and a week ago, last Sunday morning as I walked across the parking lot I noticed that there’s a tulip up in our corner flowerbed out on the southeast corner of the church. There’s really only one more sign that I’m looking for at this point…the sign I look for every year that, in my head anyway…announces that spring is really around…something I call green mist…that faint hint of green as the buds break on the trees and the tiny little leaves unfurl.
And when I see that for the first time, I get pretty giddy…because it means that once again…the new life of spring has kicked in…and perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a farm kid through and through…but spring is just an exciting time.
Just the other day I heard that calving season is well underway, as one of our members got 5 in a single day…and that’s just one aspect of new life…and another is the fact that each and every farmer is already chomping at the bit to get out there into the fields…to get them ready…and eventually…to put seed in the ground.
I have to admit to you…it never ceases to amaze me to witness the presence of hope in a farmer. Each and every year they faithfully prepare the ground…and then plant the seed…trusting that the seed is going to do what it’s supposed to do…trusting that the weather and the soil and everything else will do its part…so that tiny little seed can sprout…and grow…throw up a shoot and push out some roots…and before you know it…that tiny seed has produced a cornstalk 8 feet high with 3 or 4 ears full of kernels…just like the one that was planted in the first place…and then in the fall, the harvest comes in…the result of all that work…and all that time…and all that trust that nature…is gonna due what we hope. (pause)
Its true…you want to see the notion of faith and hope in action…just watch the farmers…because they live it each and every year…and since spring seems to be here…we’re just about to see them do it again. (pause)
Now most of you know by now that I am a plant guy…my undergrad degree from Iowa State University…so tragically knocked out of the big dance in round one…*hand on heart* rest in peace…is in horticulture…and so anytime our scripture lesson features something of a farming metaphor I tend to perk up just a little bit…and this week’s is certainly a doosy…and it speaks to exactly that point that I was making about the farmers…Jesus himself tells us that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it remains the same…if a seed isn’t planted…it stays the seed…but throw it in some dirt and add water…and something remarkable happens…but it happens at the expense of the seed itself. (pause)
Have you ever thought about that…the notion that the seed has to die? (pause) Maybe it doesn’t seem like it when we first think about it…after all its growing right? Producing the plant…doesn’t that mean that its actually alive? (pause) Well, yes, from a certain of view…but the seed itself…its no more…the seed itself…dies to itself…the seed is gone…and something else replaces it…something that in time…multiplies…
Now here’s the strange thing about this little micro-parable that Jesus shares in our gospel today. It’s not super clear exactly what he’s talking about. Is he talking about himself? Is he talking about us and our lives of faith? Just what is it?
His previous statement doesn’t help a whole lot to set it up does it? The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…ummm okay…and how exactly? Well…according to Jesus, by a death that will result in much fruit. (pause) Now Jesus goes on from there and he talks about those loving their life on earth losing it and vice versa…so maybe it seems at first glance that he is talking about us with the whole dying seed thing…but if we keep going…right up to the end of this passage we hear him say “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” indicating the death he would experience…that death on a cross when he is lifted up to hang there in agony…and we hear that this draws in all people.
And so perhaps when we look at it from this perspective we see that the seed that Jesus is talking about really is him…and make no mistake…Jesus, like that seed…dies. (pause) In just a couple more weeks…Jesus Christ…the Son of God…the one who calls himself I Am…the one who is God…will be betrayed by one that he loves…one that he has just shared bread and wine with…and he will be beaten…and eventually he will be nailed to a cross…and he…then…dies. (pause)
But here’s the amazing thing about all this…both the death of Jesus…and the death of that seed that we keep talking about…in the death…it becomes something new…the seed puts down roots and puts up a shoot…and Jesus puts down death…and raises up the church.
We are the fruit…you, me, everyone in this room…and dare I even say everyone else in the world as well…because Jesus says that…in his death…when his earthly life is over…he tells us that he draws all people to himself. (pause) Now just how that works I can’t tell you…its above my paygrade as they say…but just as the farmers plant those seeds every spring, trusting and hoping that nature will do what its supposed to…I trust that Jesus does what he promises….that Jesus creates new life and offers it to each of one us…and he proves it…because of the new life that he embodied on that Sunday morning when he walked out of the tomb…and through his life, his death, and his resurrection…he bears much fruit…and he will continue to do so. (pause)
Now perhaps you’re wondering if there is a sign for all this…a sign beyond the empty tomb and the resurrected Jesus…and the wonderful thing about our faith…is that we have signs. Jesus saw fit to give us physical signs that connect us to his life and death and resurrection that happened some 2000 odd years ago…because he told us that when we sit down and break bread together, and share a glass of wine…that he is there…and that IS his body and blood broken and poured for you…he made that promise…and he made another one…
Jesus also promised us that when we take water, and we wash one another along with the words that you are baptized in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit that God comes to us in that as well.
In a few moments, two small children will come to this font, brought forth by their parents in the presence of all of you as witnesses…all of you who represent the body of Christ…you are the plant…and the fruit that has grown up from the seed of Christ that died on that cross all those years ago…and when Coltin and McKenzie are washed in the water, and they hear those words, they will take their place among you…as fellow members of the body of Christ…joining together in a death like his…drowning that sinful self that resides within each one of us…and rising up from the water a new creation… (pause)
And may it be our hope…and our prayer…that today the seed of faith is planted in their lives…and together, as parents and sponsors and fellow members of the body of Christ, may we do our part to nurture that seed…to be the soil and water and the sunshine…so that it may blossom into a beautiful life of faith…Come Holy Spirit…and make this hope a reality…not only for these two beautiful children…but for each and every one of us…Amen.

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