Preaching Resources

Preaching Mission for the 5th Sunday in Lent (March 17, 2024)

(Water filters and buckets being distributed at the Moravian Church in Pakwi, Honduras to help provide clean drinking water. This distribution is made possible by the sacrificial giving of Moravians in North America)

What is Glory?
by Bishop Chris Giesler

Preaching Text: John 12:20-33

It seems as if some Greeks are in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival and they approach one of Jesus’ disciples, Phillip, and say: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” So, Phillip gets Andrew, and the two of them go to Jesus to inform him of these visitors who wish to see him.  But Jesus gives a cryptic answer. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23) 

What does it mean to be glorified? Next week, at the beginning of both the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, 68 teams will want to find glory in winning the championship. They want to be the ones to lift the trophy. They want to ascend the ladder and cut down the nets. After all, isn’t this was glory is all about?

Different from our world, in the upside-down world that Jesus asks us to consider, glory looks very different. For Jesus, glory is servanthood.  Glory is having a heart for mission and taking care of those in need.  And as we shall soon see, glory is being lifted up, not to cut the nets down as part of the celebration at the end of a basketball tournament, but on a cross – to die.

 Jesus then goes on to say:
“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. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” (John 12:24-26)

We live in a world that is judged by statements such as: What have you done for me lately?  How have you served my needs?  Have you made me happy and met my expectations?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have someone say that they won’t go back to a particular store or restaurant because they once had a bad experience there. Either the food was not good, the lines were too long, or a waiter or cashier was a bit rude. I have often asked if their negative experience was perhaps simply a result of an unfortunate series of events or a person just having a bad day.

In a Western, developed society, we have the luxury of going somewhere else if we feel we’ve been mistreated.  We can live by notions like: “What have you done for me lately?” “If it doesn’t suit me, I’m moving on.”  “If it does not benefit me, I am done with it.”  “If it doesn’t save me money or make me happy, I am looking elsewhere.” Not the kind of graceful reaction that Jesus would have had.  If we learn anything from Jesus’ preaching and by his example, in the kingdom of God, our needs come after we seek to meet the needs of others. This is not to sell ourselves short or to intentionally cause ourselves harm, but it does challenge us to consider how our actions impact others.

I don’t know much about farming, but I know that seeds won’t grow if they are left in the packet or held in your hand. You have to let the seeds go, bury them, and give them up to something that, while it looks silly, will eventually produce something far greater. By planting seeds, flowers will bloom, vegetables can be harvested, and trees can give us shade and oxygen.

That is the way of the kingdom of God.  It means taking the gifts that we have been given, be they talents or treasures, and use them not just to benefit ourselves but to enrich the lives of others.  We all have been gifted in unique and wonderful ways by our creator; how do we use what we have been given? This IS what mission is all about!

We in the Western, developed world, have resources like income, water, shelter, and technology that most of the rest of the world can only wish for.  How can we share our blessings with others who have none?

What does it mean to be glorified?  Is it getting rich or being popularly accepted by everyone? Or does it mean helping others to know that they are a beloved child of God?  Does it mean helping the hungry to have enough food to eat?  Does it mean welcoming the stranger among us? What is Jesus telling you today?