April 4, 2023: Rational people, spiritual world

Reading: John 12:20-36a

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew, then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is in you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”



I wonder if you’ve ever had a spiritual experience that you don’t ever share, because you don’t quite have the words to explain it. I wonder if you’ve ever worried that your experience sounded too weird, and so you thought people would think you were a little “out there.”

As rational people, we sometimes struggle with what is and is not spiritual activity. We frequently want to set aside an experience and use our senses to explain it away.
“I sensed a presence, but I was also super tired, so my mind could have been playing tricks on me.”
“I felt this sense of peace, but I wasn’t really sure why.”
“I felt sure that the Holy Spirit gave me a little tap on the shoulder to remind me that I wasn’t alone.”

Using our senses to understand something is how we learn from the first moment we take breath. So, it’s not surprising that people in Jesus’ time wanted to explain away something mystical by using their senses. A crowd standing near Jesus hears a voice from heaven, and they immediately say that it was thunder. Almost as if everyone there heard it, but didn’t want to admit it. Some people clear their throats nervously. Some others look up at the sky and say “welp, we need the rain, that’s for sure.” All of them avoid eye contact. There’s so much vulnerability in the experience that none of them can bear it.

But imagine how different the story would be if they named it.
“Did you just hear that voice?
“Yeah, I heard it too.”
And when a community experiences something holy together, they grow closer. A shared experience is a bond that can’t be broken.

Don’t be afraid to share your holy moments with the people you love and trust the most. God’s Spirit is alive and always on the move. Odds are, if you felt an inspiration to do something loving, or sensed a peaceful presence, it came from our God who loves you beyond your wildest imagining. Those moments of peace are worth sharing, because they can change the world.

–Sarah Hershberger



Gracious and Loving God, we are so grateful for the mysterious, holy moments that you give us. Help us to sense your peace every day. Help us to know when you are near, and to share your love. Help us to change the world, one peaceful gesture at a time.

In your son’s holy name we pray.