Let It Go – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Luke 18:18-30

I recently spent a day of retreat at Emery House.  I sat in a simple hut deep in the woods – and all day long I watched the gently falling leaves.  It was a beautiful and melancholy experience.  Those falling leaves seemed to pick up the feelings at this time of the year: a sense of letting go and of loss.  A time to remember.  In church we remember all Saints. We remember on All Souls Day our loved ones who have passed away.  This past week we have remembered those who lost their lives in war.

A couple of days ago in London at the Royal Albert Hall there was the annual Festival of Remembrance.  I love to watch it, because of what happens at the end.  After all the music and the singing, the huge crowd stands in silence as a million poppies fall, gently and silently – in remembrance of all who died in war – “we will remember them.”  I love that moment – with that strange mixture of sadness, yet of hope.  As the autumn leaves fall, and as the poppies fall there is sadness, but something else – a sweet sorrow.  Solomon in his wisdom, put it like this: “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.  In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction.  But they are at peace.” (Wisdom 3:1-3)

But there is I think more going on at this melancholy time of year than just remembering those who have died.  There is something about this season of falling leaves and bare trees which speaks profoundly to our souls and invites us to also experience a dying.  “For unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone.  But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jn 12:24)

What do those enigmatic words of Jesus mean?

I think there is a clue in the reading from the Gospel of Luke we have just heard: the story of the rich young man.  He comes up to Jesus and asks how he might inherit eternal life.  He rattles off all the commandments that he has kept: he’s full of self-righteousness, and full of money.  And Jesus looks at him in all his fullness and says to him, “You lack one thing – sell all that you have, and give the money to the poor.” (Lk 18:22)

The man asked for life – eternal life – and Jesus replied by saying – if you want life, you have to die first.  Just as the tree needs to let go of its leaves in order to have room for new life and growth – so the rich man had to first shed his self-righteousness and wealth, to leave room to be filled with the fullness of God.

And each season of fall reminds us again of Jesus’ invitation to us to an autumnal experience of letting go and of dying – if we want to truly live, and be filled with the fullness of God.

It is the pattern of dying and being reborn, of crucifixion and resurrection, which lies at the very heart of the Christian faith.  It’s the pattern at work in all the saints.  St. Paul, in his Letter to the Philippians wrote, “I regard 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.” (Phil 3:8)

And so with the rich young man, Jesus was saying to him, with great love, that if you don’t empty yourself, I can’t fill you – there’s no room!

So when Jesus looks at you and me, with great love, and longs to fill us with his life, who does he see?  Does he see someone too full already?  It could be just too much stuff: possessions can suffocate us, possess us.  Or we may be so overwhelmed by busy-ness that we cannot attend to the things of God.

Or maybe God can’t find room to fill you, because you are filled with anger, or resentment, or an inability to forgive – emotions that can consume us and overwhelm us.  Imagine Jesus looking at you with love, and saying gently, “let it go, let it go.”  Let it fall away like the autumn leaves.

At times we may feel the burden of sin.  Things we have done or said in the past which still haunt us and fill us with guilt or remorse.  There’s a wonderful line in our Rule which says, “We cannot keep pace with the Risen Christ, who goes before us if we are encumbered by guilt.”  I love the image of Jesus running ahead of us and looking back and saying, ‘Come on!’  And we say, “I can’t keep up!  I’m weighed down by guilt, or my possessions, my anger, my resentment, my fear…!’

And Jesus saying, ‘Let me forgive you.  Let me take the weight off you.  Let them go, and become light and free … and come follow me.’

I love this time of year – the season of fall.  Things seem to be falling and dying.  But Solomon knew a deeper mystery: “In the eyes of the foolish,” he said, “they seemed to have died.”  And we who follow Jesus know a deeper mystery.  We know that those bare trees, which seem so dead, are just waiting silently and expectantly for the mystery of spring and the glorious bursting forth of new life.

And so with us.  Jesus calls us every day to live into that mystery in our own lives.  To let die all that does not give me life.  To empty myself of all that weighs me down: possessions, anxieties, resentments, sins: whatever it is that stops me following Jesus.

Let it go.  Learn from those gently falling leaves.  And let it go.


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  1. Kellianne on October 19, 2023 at 08:24

    Last night I had a dream in it my parents and I talked about this Gospel. So to wake up and listen to the daily word and hear this was poignant. This is such a profound word to receive.
    My life is right in this moment on every point you mentioned.

  2. Joseph Myers on October 13, 2022 at 09:49

    Let it go let it go
    Just what I needed to hear today!!!
    Thank You 🙏

  3. John G. on October 13, 2022 at 09:30

    Br. Geoffrey, Thank you for suggesting a new way to live. I am sorting through old family letters and photos. Strange how old records can make people live again. In that sense the people who had a formative influence on my life only seem to be dead. Their strong examples call me to be strong and persevere. In the same way, I need to lay aside the paraphernalia of the past and increase my plodding pace to regain the calling of Jesus who races ahead. Amen

  4. Judy Carpenter on October 16, 2021 at 13:04

    As the leaves fall, I’m also reminded that there are “seasons” in our lives that are, in their time, useful, like raising children or saving money. And that, sometimes with regularity, God calls us to “let go” of those seasons and embrace new ones – which in their time, like new leaves, will carry forward the God-given intent of the host tree. The same holds for the role of the tree in the landscape. God is much, much bigger than we can comprehend, yet almost every leaf in our lives is evidence of Immanuel.

  5. Mary Naumann on October 16, 2021 at 10:35

    Always a timely conversation, especially with ones self. Thank you.

  6. Claudia I Booth on October 21, 2020 at 10:28

    We have had a sudden, unexpected death in our family, this week. This meditation is so timely. I will share it with my son.

  7. Anna-Lisa on October 21, 2020 at 09:48

    Thank you brother Geoffrey. My computer didn’t pick up your voice, but I heard you anyway. Thank you very much. Amen.

  8. Carney Ivy on October 21, 2020 at 07:51

    During this challenging time your sermon spoke to my heart. Thank you for your perspective. I hope it will give me courage to face each day with a renewed spirit. A spirit that becomes more emptied of “stuff” and filled with life. Too many people have lost loved ones, jobs, relationships – the list goes on. Dwelling on the losses can be overwhelming. I frequently share these sermons, and this one will definitely be shared. It has helped me. I pray that it with help others.
    Thank you so much!

  9. Frankie Pang on October 26, 2019 at 02:38

    Thank you Brother. A wonderful and beautiful sermon that stopped me dead in my emails and made me reread it a second time. I’m definitely saving this.

  10. Jeanne DeFazio on October 25, 2019 at 10:44

    Thanks so much.

    Sharing this today:

    I love the image of Jesus running ahead of us and looking back and saying, ‘Come on!’ And we say, “I can’t keep up! I’m weighed down by guilt, or my possessions, my anger, my resentment, my fear…!’

    And Jesus saying, ‘Let me forgive you. Let me take the weight off you. Let them go, and become light and free … and come follow me.’

  11. Benjamin Bishop on October 25, 2019 at 09:27

    Well written…poignant, complete, assuring.

  12. Eunice Schatz on October 25, 2019 at 08:35

    Such blessing I received this morning from letting go and letting things that are concern to me today, letting them “leave” and descend gently to God’s loving care.

  13. Josephine on October 25, 2019 at 08:30

    Thank you so much.

    • Jeanne DeFazio on October 21, 2020 at 09:55


  14. Gary Stewart, Ph.D. on October 25, 2019 at 07:41

    Very wise and reassuring
    Thanks for the teaching

    • Cara Alfieri on October 26, 2019 at 00:51

      Br. Geoffrey—you write so elegantly & with such love, both for your audience and for the Lord. I’m always inspired to greater quality in my life when I read your writing. Thank you.

  15. SusanMarie on October 25, 2019 at 07:31

    I’ve read several things already this fall about the spiritual aspect of autumn. The others, lovely as they are, pale in comparison to this beautiful message. This is perfect; exactly what I needed. Thank you and God bless you.

  16. Diane Hull on October 25, 2019 at 06:17

    Amen, Amen

  17. Jane Steer on October 25, 2019 at 03:57

    Thank you so much a wonderful sermon that speaks deeply and gently into my heart

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