Pastor’s Corner – March 17, 2024

John 12:20-33

A Lesson from a Grain of Wheat 

In the gospel reading, the Greeks came looking for Jesus. They heard about Jesus and now they wanted to see for themselves who this Jesus was. We don’t know what exactly they heard about him or reasons for their desire to see him. We don’t even know whether they found what they were looking for! When I think of this passage, I think about “spiritual but not religious” people. They now comprise the largest demographic group in America; sometimes referred to as non-religious. These are folks who are open to a sense of mystery, curious about the sacred, wonder about God and the spiritual life, but have not found their needs met by traditional religious institutions. These “Greeks” are looking for Jesus. They are not seeking membership or asking to join a committee, and they don’t even care for our liturgy! I wonder now, just as these Greeks came looking for Jesus, what would happen if “spiritual but not religious” showed up at our doorsteps? Would they find what they are looking for? Yes! We hope so and we do our best to mediate experiencing God through the sacraments, the hymns we sing, the scriptures we read and the gospel we proclaim! 

Not to place ourselves in any defensive posture, but I think it’s important to reflect that there was a time about thirty years ago when the largest demographic category was “religious but not spiritual.” This has now flipped to “spiritual but not religious.” This led religious institutions to create liturgies for people who were “religious but not spiritual.” How much are we willing to change for those who are seeking to encounter Jesus? Don’t get me wrong, our liturgies and worship do mediate divine encounter and experience of Jesus for many of us, but we can also argue that what we do here in the church does not reach out to many who are in our world, people we care and love, wishing they were with us.  So again, how much are we willing to change and adapt to make room for our children, grandchildren and friends? (This question may be a larger question of inclusion!)

I think a great place to have this conversation is starting with the lesson from a grain of wheat that Jesus talks about. As soon as he hears about the Greeks looking for him, he points to the cross! The glory he prays for and the mission he pursues all revolve around the cross. So, whether we are “religious but not spiritual” or “spiritual but not religious,” encountering Jesus isn’t just about our faith or satisfying spiritual desires. It’s about being drawn to Jesus’ message of God’s Kingdom; to love and serve by offering ourselves as Jesus did, to demonstrate God’s strength through vulnerability, God’s power through what appears to be weak and foolish, and God’s justice through love and mercy. Jesus who revealed the heart of God by going to the cross is the same Jesus who was raised from the dead. Is this the Jesus the Greeks seek? Is this the Jesus we also seek? Amen.   

Pastor Dae