Posted: 28 Mar 2009 12:00 AM PDT
Jer 31:31-34 / Heb 5:7-9 / Jn 12:20-33
In the late 1800s, there was a wealthy English philanthropist named Jeremy Bentham. In his will, he left a fortune to a London hospital. But there was one odd condition to the bequest: The hospital could keep the money only so long as Bentham was present at every board meeting.
So for over 100 years, the remains of Jeremy Bentham were wheeled into the board room every month and placed at the head of the table. And for over 100 years, the minutes of every board meeting included a line which read, “Mr. Jeremy Bentham, present but not voting.”
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How many of us does that describe? Present, but not voting — just there.
Every life worth living, every great work, has a price that has to be paid. And whatever that price is, it always involves letting go of something we value. That’s what Jesus is telling us with his parable about the seed. Every seed has a miracle locked up inside it: It has the capacity to become a noble tree or a gorgeous flower or a tasty meal for someone. But it can’t become any of those things if it stays on the shelf in its nice, dry little envelope. It has to let go of that comfortable spot and get down into the dirt where it’s dark and damp. It has to let go of being a little seed, if the miracle is to happen.
Such is life for us all, even for Jesus. To complete his work, he had to let go of everything, even his very life.
Letting go takes different shapes for each of us. For the battered wife or the man who’s grown hopelessly stale in his job, it may mean letting go of security and status, and moving on. For the couple whose marriage is foundering, it may mean staying put but letting go of old habits and ideas that have got in the way. In every case, clinging to things as they are and refusing to let go will inevitably rob us of life and steal away our joy — all because we’re afraid of losing what we have, though it may be as tiny and insignificant as a seed.
Knowing when and what to let go is not easy. And finding the courage to do it is even harder. Only one thing makes it possible: Our connectedness to the Lord, who will help us see ourselves clearly through his eyes, and then help us act with his strength.
God wants us to have life and joy to the full. And lest we miss the best parts of life, he is challenging us to ask ourselves a simple question: What am I clinging to that is robbing me of life? What am I afraid of letting go? There’s an important answer if we ask the question and then listen carefully.
So ask the question now and don’t be afraid. He is standing right beside you.