Gospel: John 12:20-33
1st Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
2nd Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10
This morning I'd like to lead you through a guided meditation in which you imagine that you are the seed that is mentioned in the Gospel. So in preparation, please get in a comfortable position. Sit up straight, put your feet flat on the floor, and place your hands in your lap. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. And take a deep breath in and out. And another deep breath in and out.
You find yourself somewhere high up, with a view of the surrounding area. You can see across the green fields, trees and clouds and insects and animals. This is a pleasant place to be. There are many colorful plants and flowers nearby, different textures and shapes all around you. You feel safe. You feel warm. You feel a soft breeze on your face. Picture the area around you. Breathe in the sweet smell of the flowers. Breathe in the sweet smell of the soil. Listen to the sounds of insects buzzing. Sometimes they land near you. Listen to the birds calling to each other.
You are not alone. There are many others like you nearby. You are all crowded together in one place and others are nearby, also looking out over the colorful landscape.
Your favorite time is the rising of the sun. After a cool night of breezes and crickets, you watch the sky turn to ever lighter shades of blue, then pink, orange, yellow. The stars slowly fade away. But the best part is when the sun begins to warm your back. Feel that sun warming you. Feel yourself growing and changing, getting stronger, storing up energy for the future.
But today the sunrise is no so pretty. Gray clouds hang low overhead. There is the smell of rain in the air. The day is cold and dark. As the drops begin to fall from the sky, you shiver and shake. You hear the faint splash of water drops. One falls near you and surrounds you and you see your reflection in it. Take a look at what you see there. You see how much you've grown and changed and what a strong coat you've produced. As the rain falls harder, you start to sway and you start to feel dizzy and a little seasick.
You notice that some of your companions have lost their hold and fallen. You feel yourself losing your grip on your perch. You don't know whether to feel excited or afraid. You try to hold on. You tell yourself you are strong enough to hold on through the storm. You could stay up here forever. But the storm keeps on pounding and blowing. There is no end in sight. Finally, exhausted and weary you finally let go. It seems like you fall forever, the world spinning around you, the ground coming up to meet you, until you crash to the soil below. Water is swirling around you. You can see some of your companions nearby—some covered in water, some sticking up from the soil, some being carried away by tiny streams. You have no control about where you go next. Everything is unfamiliar. The world looks very different from down here. You feel small and vulnerable. You find yourself sinking—being covered by water and mud and leaves. The darkness swallows you. You find yourself falling into a deep sleep.
After a long time you awake to find yourself in total darkness. You shiver with cold. The earth around you is hard and unyielding. You remember your happy days way up high in the sunlight and how you felt so strong and confident. You wonder what you did to cause you to fall so low. You feel alone. The days pass slowly.
You begin to notice one day that you don't shiver as much as before. The ground around you is getting slightly warmer. At first you wonder if it is just your imagination. Breathe in the warmth. Feel the life stirring inside of you. Something is happening, but you wonder if you should stay right here or risk poking your head out to look around. You feel moisture around you and you soak it in, guzzle it down. You feel refreshed and stronger.
You realize that you are growing again. Your roots break through your outer coat. It is a little uncomfortable at first, but your roots find water and nutrients and it feels so good to stretch out. You feel stronger every day. You begin to branch upward and soon you catch a glimpse of that precious sunlight you missed so much. You stretch up, you root deeper and stronger, you soak in the warm sunlight. You push away the rocks and leaves and dirt until your leaves are finally free. You stretch them out. You look around and see your companions growing tall and strong next to you. Again you smell the flowers, hear the birds and insects and feel the wind and turn your leaves to face the glorious sunlight.
You can move your hands, feet, head and neck slowly and stretch, go ahead and open your eyes when you are ready.
I'll leave you with two questions today:
1. Where do you see God in this story?
2. Where are you in this story this morning?