Sermon Archives

Letting Go ~ John 12:20-33

Philip and Andrew tell Jesus that some Greeks want to see him. And Jesus knows that NOW his hour has come. There are at least three other times in John’s Gospel where Jesus declares that his time has not yet come, but now Jesus is deeply aware of a change and he turns towards Jerusalem and the final days.

It is time to let go of life – time to let go of the ministry and the teaching and the signs and the disciples and walk the lonesome valley towards the cross.

His soul is troubled – but it is time.

What Jesus is facing at that moment is something that all of us go through too. It is a hard lesson for us – a very hard lesson – to realize that only from letting go can anything come. In dying to self you actually live. In holding things loosely you actually grasp what is important. The Gospel is full of these paradoxes. Life is full of these paradoxes.

At Heights High School, the penultimate song that is sung by the choirs at their final concert of the year is “Letting Go.” During the singing the seniors leave the stage and, with a rose in hand, come out into the audience to embrace their family. There are tears aplenty.

Students, you have to let go of high school. Parents, you must let go of your kids – they are not yours. The hour has come.

You cannot stay in one place. The Spirit of God always beckons you onward even if you don’t physically move. You either grow or you wither. You either plant your seed or the isolated unplanted seed dies, rots, is of no use.

The unwillingness to let go is deadly. Remaining isolated is the definition of hell. Loosening the grip may be gut wrenching – but what is one to do?

Jesus says: “My soul is troubled but save me from this hour?”

God, this is life, no? Those soul stirring moments of choice of actually where life becomes real, you become aware – the chance is taken.

The key, of course, is developing the trust that the more you let go, the more God is glorified; and the more you release, you actually step into the glory of yourself.

St. Francis of Assisi understood:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

What do you need to let go of, what seed do you need to plant and let die, so that the seedpod can break and the roots can start digging deep in your life right now?

What expectation do you need to release, metaphorically to plant so that God may be glorified? And so you might become more you? These are the only questions that matter.

It is one thing to have a dream or a seed of an idea. But a dream deferred – either because of fear or because of social stagnation or oppression – leads to a life of, at best wandering – never touching down or, at worst – violence as seed dreams of the disenfranchised lead to nightmarish rot.

Songwriter and singer, John Prine, writes of those who “live in their heads.” Living lives of isolation, spinning fantasies, making no difference at all to anything.

Jesus teaches that unplanted, lone seeds are useless. You can be an introvert. Maybe you need a lot of alone time, maybe you process better by yourself. But to glorify God, there are no lone rangers or unplanted seeds. Sooner or later you have to put yourself out there. Take that risk. See what happens. You have to let go of your uncertainty and self-consciousness. Be willing to make a fool of yourself. Go ahead make a mistake. I dare you!

You have to plant the seed or like a raisin in the sun, you wither and die with no fruit borne.

You need to let go of those lone seeds of certainty that you alone are right; that you control the outcome; that your experience is the only worthy one to have. That is idolatry. Go ahead and have your opinion and hold them strongly, but always realize that you could be wrong.

There is a study going around that we Americans are becoming more and more divided in our politics; that Republicans and Democrats are becoming more entrenched in their own positions and more distrustful of the other. I have read that more Americans would rather have their child marry someone of another race than another political party. Both of those perspectives are sick and need to die!

Holding onto the seed of certainty is a real problem with religion. There is nothing worse than one who cannot loosen up and hold up their own religious beliefs to the light of reason, to the illumination of questioning, and feeling and yes, even doubt.

But here is another seed that we have to let go of – and that is seed of doubt. My gosh, we give “doubt” more power in our lives than faith – more power to cynicism than to trust.

You see, Jesus wants you to give it all up. To die to self. To hold all things loosely. To become detached from yes, even your own most powerful identities. Hold it all to the light. Let go. Plant every seed into the ground and see what comes up.

Let those nagging complaints that you have against the other die. Let go of those voices in your head that says you can’t or your won’t or you are not good enough. Let them die so that God can be glorified in you. The hour has come!

Let go of those resentments. It is time to let go. But we cling to them so tightly: we become our resentments! But God wants to do something else in you – God wants the light to shine in you, God wants you to be free, to reveal your glory – not for you to hide in the shadows of past, unrequited hurts. That is sin. That is taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

When you really take a good hard look at yourself and you become aware of those things that are keeping you from moving on – from glorifying God – there may well be thunder and shaking – for your world is turning over, you will feel it in your gut – but it probably is the voice of God saying: I want to be glorified in you. I want you to be you.

Let it go! “Expect nothing and live frugally on surprise” – and you will find that you have been given an abundance and you will know the way.

Elsa of Disney’s Frozen knows the truth of the Gospel:

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

The hour has come. May God’s name be glorified! And you too!