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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Community Helps Us to Bear Loss

“Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.’"

                                                                                                           —From John 12:20-33


The gospel text for this week initially looks like a holy game of telephone. Some Greeks arrive on the scene and decide they want to see Jesus. Philip hears them, goes to tell Andrew, then the two of them approach Jesus. This seems to me how it often works. My journey to Jesus involves countless people who bear the light of Christ in my day to day life and my more profound seasons of change and transition. The more I assume I will encounter Christ, the more I do. It is about orienting ourselves to the presence of God in all the moments of our life. 


This training ourself for holy encounter is important. Because gathering as community is not just about happy news. Good news, gospel news, includes the very difficult times as well. When the Greeks arrive at Jesus with Andrew and Philip they hear a deep truth. Jesus tells them that bearing fruit requires death and loss. This is not just literal death, but also the many relinquishments that come to us in life. 


All of these little losses prepare us for the last one—when we let go of our earthly pilgrimage. Our burial liturgy in the Episcopal church is always a profound experience. We gather together, we engage in the sacred task of re-membering with one another the fruit that we have experienced in the life of someone we deeply love. That sharing is what gives us the sustenance to walk the hard road of grief.


I’m also so grateful for the way the creation assists our knowing of these deep truths as spring is emerging from every place we look. Brown and dead remnants from the winter start to show us green sprouts of new growth. The loss is still evident, but the colors from God’s palette call us to new life and hope. We have walked this pilgrim way of Lent for many weeks now, and as we approach Holy Week we are encouraged to keep going. Easter is on the horizon. Gather with us so we can remember the gift with one another!


Peace, Beth +


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