Fifth Sunday in Lent

5 Lent—March 22, 2015

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33

Homily preached by the Rev. Canon Linda S. Taylor

It’s amazing to me how quickly I can go from gratitude to panic. I learned Saturday morning that the event I’d been called to deal with today had been cancelled. So, I called Canon Jesus and said: “You’ve got the day off!” and he was kind of disappointed, and he said please have them call me because he’d really like to come be with you, and I said okay. So I was sitting there feeling good about being with you today, and then I started thinking about all the preparation for the sermon that had not happened. So, I did what I do when I need to prepare a sermon. I go to the lections, and first I read the gospel, and I thought, man—there’s a bunch of stuff here! There’s all kinds of stuff going on. There’s the Greeks, there’s Jesus talking about turning toward his death and about wheat and about losing life to gain life, and God speaking, and I thought “Oh my.” So read the other lections, then read the gospel again, then read it again. And then went for a walk, because that’s what I do. I walk around, and I don’t pay much attention to things. I just look and see what’s happening, and sooner or later, something bubbles up, and I think “Aha!” That happens on the good days. This time, I was walking along, and I noticed that this little song was going through my head, and I thought “Huh! Huh!” So I spent the rest of yesterday doing stuff and thinking about that little song and where it takes me. So that’s most of what I bring you today.


Some Greeks came to the festival and they came to Philip and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” I don’t know how they knew that he knew Jesus—maybe he had a sign on him, I don’t know. There were a lot of people, and maybe they asked them who knows Jesus. Maybe somebody pointed a Philip. Now they’re at a festival, and I imagine there are a lot of people. So they come to Philip and they say, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip goes and tells Andrew about this interesting thing that has happened, and they both go and tell Jesus what has happened. It seems to me that in that moment, Jesus turns from being attentive to his ministry that he’s been doing for all this time and turns his attention toward his death. He’s beginning to talk more about it. But my attention was staying on those Greeks. Some Greeks came to Philip and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” And I realize that that’s what we really want to do. We want to see Jesus.


We don’t come here for fellowship or outreach or even for worship—that’s part of it. But deep down, the reason we gather on Sundays and at all the other times we come together is because we want to see Jesus. That may be an unspoken desire for us—it may even be an unknown one—but deep-down, I believe that’s the reason we come here: because we want to see Jesus.


And when people come in these doors for the first time or for the first time in a long time, that’s what they want. They come here because they want to see Jesus—just as we do. They want to hear his voice. They want to see him touching the people who come to him for healing. They want to see how he was with his disciples—perhaps to be with those disciples—to be in that moment when a particular story that touches their heart is going on. They want to listen to his teaching. They want to see what it was really all about. They—and we—want to touch the hem of his garment. Folks come to see Jesus. And they can see Jesus—right here—but only if we see Jesus first.


Some Greeks came to Philip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” What would it be if we said that? What would happen if we said “I want to see Jesus.”? I wonder.


As we enter these last two weeks—next week begins Holy Week—and as we move toward the pageantry and the mystery and the passion of this week that’s at the center of our Christian life, I invite you to join me in seeking Jesus—seeking his face. Seeking Jesus when we’re together like this—in each other’s faces. Seeking Jesus in the faces we meet on the street and in the grocery store and in our workplace and in the park and when we’re out walking. Seeking the face of Jesus in the little kids and youth who are such a blessing to this community and to the larger community. Seeking Jesus when our relationships are difficult. Seeking Jesus when we encounter someone and we immediately want to turn away. Seeking Jesus when we come to this altar.


I wonder what would happen. I wonder what would happen to us. I wonder what would happen to this world.


Open our eyes, Lord,

we want to see Jesus.

To reach out and touch him,

to tell him we love him.

Open our ears, Lord,

and help us to listen

Open our eyes, Lord,

we want to see Jesus.