Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival.They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. John 12
Fourteen years ago I went to a conference in California at Saddleback Church. Whilst there went to visit one of the services at Anaheim Vineyard – the church that John Wimber planted. I wanted to see something that I had heard a lot about and had experienced the benefit of. The experience was slightly disappointing. No criticism here about Anaheim Vineyard – it’s just that I was there as a spiritual tourist – there for an ‘experience’ and instead got the experience of the reality of a church going after it’s vision and calling.
I wonder if that is a little bit like the Greeks felt on coming to Jesus and instead of meeting the glorious charismatic king-like person get told that the basic thing they needed to understand is that it’s all about death and resurrection. Gulp.
Jesus’s message is that the long awaited salvation will come not through a triumphing King taking up his throne in Jerusalem and everything being made all right. Instead he is saying “if you want to see me glorified, if you want to experience glory, then come and experience death”.
The route to fruitfulness is death. We see it in that simple illustration Jesus used. A grain of wheat only remains a grain of wheat if it doesn’t fall and die. If it falls and dies then many seeds will be produced. Death and resurrection is all around us, inescapable. Yet we try to escape. We try to rescue things, make things better…. when actually they need to die in order that new life will come.
Kairos is a church that has death and resurrection as a crucial part of it’s history. The people of St Mary’s chose to let St Mary’s die in order that Kairos could begin to rise. We have seen over the last four years especially MSCs closing and embracing death and new MSCs emerge. We’ve embraced change, which so often feels like death, as a matter of “this is how we do church…. we are Kairos.”
Death and resurrection is a fundamental part of discipleship. If Jesus did it and experienced it….. so will we and should we.
This season for us as a church, as we head into the restful Summer months, is turning out to be a time of death. Several of our MSCs are choosing to fall to the ground in order that more seeds will be produced.
Elpis is coming to a natural end as those who have shared in some wonderful times together of significant kingdom impact consider what and where next.
Gatherers are choosing to enter a time of letting it all go in order that new things will arise and everyone can make good decisions about what to be part of next and with who.
Vintage is seeking to multiply and likely to stop in order to release more communities.
The three MSCs represent much of the first fruits of becoming a church that releases communities of followers in the mission of Jesus. But are all hearing the call to die and to wait for a time. Already people are coming up with a sense of a vision God is giving them, something they are wanting to explore doing. It is challenging and a little disturbing to be letting go of things that we have invested quite a lot of ourselves into. There is an experience of bereavement – I’m reminded of the Queen’s words at the funeral of her mother “grief is the price you pay for love”.
We’ve been here before. It’s called death and resurrection time. Also known as discipleship – the losing of life in order to keep it. We can trust that Jesus will be true to his word “My Father will honour the one who serves me”.
Resurrection is coming!