Thought for the Day by Toby Parsons (All Hallows)
Reading: John 12:20-36
The grain of seed
“At this moment the world is in crisis.”
“Right now I am shaken.”
Several sentences in today’s reading from John 12 strike a chord with where we are at the moment.
But it’s the image of the seed in verses 24 and 25 which may offer us both reassurance and challenge: “Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.”
It can feel like we’ve been buried over the last year. That the earth has closed in around us, shutting out light and warmth. We’ve almost been in a dormant state. Life has continued, but in a subdued way – a kind of hibernation, or a seed waiting to germinate.
As we move into spring, the shoots of new growth are starting to appear.
We see it in the natural world. And, God willing, we start to see it in relation to covid. We pray that, as we move from Lent into Easter and beyond, we’ll be able to start socialising together and worshipping together more.
It’s entirely natural that we want to get back to some semblance of normality, that we long for a return to life as it was pre-pandemic.
The end of verse 25 says “In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”
And perhaps in there we can see a challenge to think about what we’ll permanently let go of?
Covid has undoubtedly brought a lot of suffering and reasons to lament. We mustn’t underestimate the pain.
But there have also been benefits. We’ve walked more, and appreciated the outdoors, even if it’s just our local parks. There have been lower emissions from traffic on Otley Road and planes flying over us. Perhaps we’ve shopped more locally? And kept in touch more with distant friends and relatives, albeit by zoom?
Some of these things we’ll choose to keep, and in doing so we’ll let go of our old ways.
And that applies to our church and spiritual lives too. What will we need to let go of from before the pandemic, to create space for the seed to grow? It may not be easy, but we have a particular opportunity as individuals, the church and society to be renewed and refreshed this Easter season.
But to fully embrace that we’ll need to let go, not just hold on.
For your information … our programme of Thoughts for the Day will be paused during Holy Week and Easter, enabling our churches to explore other seasonal materials and also give the writers a well-deserved break ! We will then continue with TFTD’s from 12th April to 12th May, covering the wonderful resurrection stories from the Morning Prayer Lectionary. There will be a further pause between Ascension Day (13th May) to Pentecost (23rd May) again bringing an opportunity to engage with other resources.