April 16, 2019 John 12:20-26 Rev. Miriam Foltz
Pastor, Ukirk St. Louis
My seminary travel group arrived to the city on ‘Jerusalem Day.’ For one side, the day celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem by the Israeli state in 1967 at the end of the Six-Day war. For other sides, it’s a mournful and fearful day as large crowds amass and congregate in a powder-keg city already cramped, crowded, and still carefully divided. For my part, I had never seen such a concentration of nationalistic flags or young soldiers openly carrying weapons.
In Jerusalem, in the days after Jesus’ entrance to palms and crowd’s chanting, I imagine the streets of the city held similar tension and excitement. Roman soldiers congregating to ‘keep the peace.’ Jewish pilgrims gathering in the city for the holiest of festivals – Passover. And for the disciples of Christ, their fears, expectations, anxieties, and hopes simmering together within the walled city. In today’s passage in John, Jesus begins to conclude his public ministry. Jesus speaks of death and life, of service and honor, of now and eternity. It’s the big speech before game day; he’s trying to get out the message one last time. Do you feel the nerves and anticipation?
Tuesday of Holy Week might feel like the ultimate twiddle-your-thumbs day. In the grand scheme of Holy Week, three days go ‘unnamed’ – Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – and Tuesday falls smack dab in the middle of ‘em. We’ve come down from the high of Palm Sunday and aren’t yet building up to Maundy Thursday. But don’t be lulled by the calendar. Do you hear the voices in the streets!? Do you see the anticipation in the crowds?! Even the Greeks are showing up to catch sight of Jesus! Aren’t you just a little curious about what’s going to happen?? Jesus speaks, “If a grain of wheat dies, it bears much fruit.” Will there be peace in Jerusalem even today?
Prayer: God, who was in the beginning and is now and ever shall be, we give you thanks for the middling days, for times when we feel somewhere in-between and not-yet, for days of waiting and anticipating your kindom. We seek the fruits of your kindom. Come, Lord Jesus, bring heavenly peace to this anxious world. Amen.