Jer 31, 31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12: 20-33.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

The gospel this week is filled with preachable themes and it may be difficult to choose; however, I have chosen the above passage to focus on.

The image of the grain of wheat, its death, and its fruitfulness is oftentimes paralleled with bodily death and the resurrection -- especially considering the passage that immediately follows it:

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.

However, the choice to deny oneself in this life is a death of sorts and the fruit this can produce to FEED OTHERS is a beautiful thing to behold.

How often do we think in those terms? How often do we ask ourselves: How do I feed others with the fruit that I produce through my choices to deny myself and love others? How do my sacrifices produce lasting fruit in this world? Do I see my NOs producing YESs in the lives of others? Do I understand that a grain of wheat dies and grows not so it can go through a miserable, painful change; but rather so that it produces fruit -- fruit to be enjoyed, shared, and given to nourish others.

We have all felt this trade-off in our own lives. It is no mystery. We have all traded-off immediate; but fleeting rewards for lasting and longterm fruitfulness.

This is observed in parenthood all of the time -- where parents do without so that their children have a better life than they had -- or more opportunities. I saw that in my own family where my father spent his life putting cars together on an assembly line and where my mother worked so hard in nursing homes and hospitals to make sure my siblings and I had great advantages in life.

You have denied yourself and have done God the will of God by caring for an elderly parent who in their old age need the constant care you once deeded as a baby.

You have endured the hardships of supporting that family member or friend in his or her struggle with an addiction. You have put up with the cycle of victory and defeats, ups and downs because of the command of Jesus to love.

Or your dealing with that addiction yourself and digging in and trying to walk the straight line.

You are a teenager and you are determined to live a life of virtue and chastity when it seems to you that no one else is. And you think you may pay a price for that. You will sacrifice popularity and hanging with the crowd that calls themselves cool.

You have devoted what seems to be your entire life to caring for that physically or mentally challenged child because it is simply the right thing to do and you do it out of love.

You have lost a child or your spouse and not a day goes by that you do not think of that person you have lost, but you find the strength to stand up and carry on and continue being a giving person when you feel that everything in life has been taken from you.

You have carried around a hurt so deep and so stinging for years and even decades and you have never spoken about it to another soul and there have been times that you have wanted to act out in anger and revenge and rage, but you have resisted and turned the other cheek and responded with love.

You are a teenager and you have postponed a chance to join friends for good times because a friend was in need of you who had just broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend and is depressed

Whether we are kids, teenagers, adults or elderly, we feed each other often with our fruit. Let us think of the ways that we have died to self so that we might produces fruit and feed one another. Let us challenge ourselves to continue this process in our lives to nourish one another to the best of our ability -- with the help of God.

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