.“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
I fiercely hold onto “grains of wheat.” I’m too afraid to experience what happens if I throw away the wrong piece of paper or a special item in my home. Knowing how humans work, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this!
Having a yearly Holy Week nudges me to look examine what it means to “lose” as well as all perspectives of the life, death, and resurrection story of Jesus. How was Jesus’ message one that brought hope to the masses and threatened the powers-that-be? How did they recognize Jesus as “the Christ?” How can I become more courageous like Jesus? What in my life can shed to become more like Jesus, and how will shedding the item help me grow with God and closer to my neighbor?
The story of Holy Week encourages us to let go of our own “wheat” and gives us the lens to see miracles in the events that follow. Is the old grain of wheat a painful experience? Is it our own bias? It is an antique in our own home? Is it a program at the church?
Granted, there is grief when we allow something to change. With change comes small – or large – deaths. There’s no way around it: all grief gives us some form of discomfort. I believe that no matter our age, we like to hold onto our own “grains of wheat” as long as possible. Whether we are a twenty-something, a middle-aged person, or someone past retirement, change is beyond uncomfortable. Even we younger people wince when we see that a social media app has changed. And we fret at the possibility of a change in any of our institutions.
Easter, resurrection, and this season of newness begs us to ask this: what miracles do we believe could happen if we allow our “grain of wheat” to fall to the ground? This is when we get to start dreaming, friends. We now give permission to our hand which has grasped the wheat to embrace or create something new.
The parable of the grain of wheat is a lectionary text for Holy Week. This is a reminder that something new happened after Jesus’ horrific, painful death. This story treasures the newness that happens when we become open to something after a door has closed.
Based on a talk that I heard by theologians Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, I remember that we wouldn’t have known about Jesus without the story of the Resurrection and Easter. And we wouldn’t have Easter and Resurrection without Jesus’ Good Friday death. This is not to say that Jesus’ death was joyful, but that something blossomed after the ordeal. Without all of this, we would not have learned the value of new life after loss or resilience after trauma. Likewise, without Holy Week, we wouldn’t have this picture illustrating the value of hope in the face of grief and anguish.
May Easter transform us into a hope-filled people. May this parable of the wheat encourage us to be people who give ourselves permission to release. May we fill our lives with healing, excitement, and joyous anticipation as we celebrate this season of Easter and beyond!