Lent 5C – Symbols of Lent: Sheaves of Wheat
Revised Common Lectionary Lent 5C
[126:1] When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”  The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.  Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!  Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
John 12:1-8 (ESV)
[12:1] Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.  Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said,  “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.  Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.  For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
Symbols of Lent: Grain/ Stalk of Wheat
A few verses after today’s Gospel reading from the lectionary, Jesus presents his parable of comparing the Son of Man and the Stalk of Wheat. The Grain or Seeds from the Stalk of Wheat must fall away and be buried in the ground if it is to produce more grain. So, to commemorate Jesus, the Son of Man, bringing more life into the world by dying and being buried, we use the symbol of a Stalk of Wheat during Lent. — “And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25 ESV) We are also reminded of today’s reading from Psalms. Verses 5 and 6 of the 126th Psalm: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Paul tells us in our reading from Philippians that we are to share in Christ’s sufferings and emulate his example if we are to share in His resurrection (verses 10-11). In this light, the Stalks of Wheat or the Grain we see during Lent should not only remind us of what Jesus did for us, but what we are to do because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
St. Patrick’s Breastplate
I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
his baptism in Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spicèd tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.
I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling of the wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.
I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.
Words: attributed to St. Patrick (372-466)
translated by Cecil Frances Alexander, 1889
Adapted by Laura Kelly Campbell