Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sermon Lent 4 2006

Read John 12:20-33

Most great spiritual leaders end up writing a set of rules, which become the code for their followers. Often these rules become quite complicated and long winded. John Wesley wrote to his people called Methodist the following Rule of Conduct:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

For someone like me, this is a lot easier to grasp but very difficult to actually do. Much of my life is spent being too busy, making excuses and then feeling guilty about it – what a waste! I long to emulate Mr. Wesley in the practice of good. Oh to be as good as he was!

In the movie “Mr. Holland’s Opus” starring Richard Dreyfus, Mr Holland finds himself distracted from the grand vision of composing a symphony. His mundane tasks of managing a family and his music students continually get in the way. He longs to be able to be The Composer and is frustrated by such seemingly less important endeavours.

At the end of the movie we, and Mr Holland, realise that it is the lives of his students that collectively create a far more significant symphony than anything he could ever compose. His contribution to this world, far from being frustrated, has been nurtured in the very place he least expected.

“When a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it surrenders to new life and bears much fruit.”

Sometimes I need a perspective shift to see what is happening around me: that my value is not so much measured by my dream of changing the world – which I never get right – but is measured more in the seemingly insignificant, serendipitous connections I make in daily life, amidst the frustrations of the mundane (often despite my best efforts!). That is what changes the world.

But I have been bamboozled by this world into thinking that the only change that matters is grand change; that the only people who are truly significant are those who have shaken the earth. I wait for the world to make me a great person; I long for the ability, the training, the vision, the time, the money, the self-actualisation that will propel me to become a hero and save the world. In short, I need permission to do good (check Sarah’s lectionary blog on this point).

“Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Jesus has judged this world’s values by living in direct opposition to the falseness of this world’s deceptions. Jesus has liberated us from the romance of hero worship. His foolishness has proven wiser than anything we know.

So he draws us all in; every one of us: the gentile Greek who thinks he needs Phillip’s permission to speak to Rabbi Jesus, Phillip who still thinks he needs to consult his more Jewish colleague, Andrew, on the best approach to the Master and Andrew who still thinks that two will be more convincing than one when they ask permission for an audience for the foreigner. But Jesus is no hero. He draws all to him. He does not live up to his disciple’s infatuation. He dies for their worship of the hero.

When I am able to let go of my infatuation with my own hero-vision of myself, I will begin to see the value I have already in the unwitting composition of my daily life. I will be able to participate more fully in the drawing of all people into the heart of God. I will no longer need the world’s permission to be part of God’s great love. I will live from the simplicity of knowing that I am loved, and I love. This is enough.

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