“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.” John 12:24
Greetings, Fremont Family:
I took this photograph on my walk this morning along Alberta St. I was struck by the power and the simplicity of the symbol painted on a storefront window. The raised fist signifies solidarity with larger social and political movements, and in this particular case, its reference is the current Black Lives Matter movement. Alberta St. in Northeast Portland was historically Black space. Now, it is gentrified, upscale, predominantly white space. What does it mean to call for Black solidarity here?
In our scripture for this coming Sunday, Jesus is in Jerusalem. Things are heating up as we get closer to his arrest and crucifixion. Sensing the growing tension, Jesus indicates that it’s almost time for him to be “glorified.” Only, when Jesus talks about his glorification, he means his death. What kind of “glory” is that? For Jesus, things are not what they seem, death is life, shame is glory. And, the opposite is also true, life is death when we cling to the wrong kinds of power. Jesus uses the imagery of a seed buried in the ground to describe what often we fail to see. True life only comes when we relinquish who we are to God’s purposes. When we yield, then we are opened up.
What does that mean for us at Fremont? In many ways, the pandemic “buried” us. It forced us into different ways of being, AND in ways that we never imagined, we have also borne fruit. In the year that we have been “closed,” we have given our building over to weekly meal preparation and distribution of food to the homeless. We have used our Narthex (lobby) for an equity-focused Learning Pod to support children. We have yielded our space to those who needed more than we did.
On Easter Sunday, we will launch our renewed Capital Campaign. Much of the work of the Campaign began long before I arrived. It stirred from a sense that we needed new life at Fremont beginning with some deferred maintenance. But, in the “fallow” time our sense of God’s purposes for us have changed. We now know that what happens in us next will be different than before. We will return transformed. We have lost our life in order to find it again. I can’t wait to embark on this next part of our beautiful journey together. In the meantime, may we offer our whole selves to God’s “glory.” May we go with him through death and into new life.
Grace and peace, Erin