5th Sunday of Easter May 7, 2012
I just love when a scripture reading begins with the word Children. It reminds me that no matter the number of birthdays we are all still children at heart when it comes to faith. Today’s scripture has a double impact today because this is the 5th Sunday of Easter and the last day of religious education for our children. Yea summer is almost upon us and we can play!
So children, moved by the spirit of survival and renewed life (speaker had open heart surgery in October) the good Lord gave to me a vine story to tell! In fact it’s a story you can tell your parents. Children, let us begin with love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. Does that mean walk the talk?
This past January I planted two bare root grape vines 2/3 of the way down a hill not far from my lake on the other side of the lake from my cabin. I choose that location because I could watch it, the hill gets lots of sun and is close to water.
But the good lord gave me more motivation to choose that spot. The year before, I encountered total failure when I planted on the top of the same hill. That year the first two vines flourished in the spring because of regular rain. I was a happy boy until the reality of summer, the selection of the location and the unwillingness of the vine grower to follow through by walking the talk. Both vines dried up and died.
So did I say we all have a vine grower job to do for our children and grand children? This summer and who is going to watch over them? Children today have so many more temptations and risky behaviors bombarding them than I ever had as a child. When I was a kid we went out to play until dark! Today kids play on a multiple technology devices and can be absorbed into cyber space and never encounter a real human person.
Back to the vine story. One could say since the vine grower knew better the vine grower either lacked sufficient awareness or ignored his conscience. The vine grower’s job is to assure those plants received supplemental water when they were most vulnerable. One could say I wasn’t receptive to the deeds and needs of the vines for life giving water.
So here I am a little old vine grower. Well I can’t say I am a success yet, but I did locate the vines near the lake so I can more easily transport water to them. Recently on alternating days I delivered a cool satisfying drink of water. I was rewarded with an outburst of beautiful leaves. Wow, I was so excited I began dreaming of seedless red and green grapes.
Now what is this story about vines – the relationship essential to a healthy vine or the healthy relationship between the trinity and God’s people?
Well mother nature had more to teach this old man. Last week a day after celebrating the abundance of new growth and leaves I discovered almost all of the leaves had mysteriously disappeared overnight. The mother nature took the old vine grower out to the reality woodshed and left rabbit tracks to remind the vine grower there are other hungry creatures around.
Could be there are many worldly rabbits out there eagerly waiting to feast upon our green children? Anyone with me?
In Jesus time, people were far more aware and observant of mother nature and all her works. The reason is simple, their ability to sustain the viability of the life of their community hung in the balance.
So let’s see if we can see what the people of Jesus time already knew as He spoke. Jesus was pouring out the spirit of life hidden to most modern day ears. The deeds of love which net one Eternal salvation hang in the balance of the story.
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. . He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
The people of Jesus time automatically understood the unseen. The vine cannot exist without roots. The roots must be hidden and buried in the earth. The earth must receive both the warmth of the sun and rain to release the nutrients buried in the earth to create new life in the vine. Within the vine sap is created which flows throughout the vine and serves as the vehicle to deliver life sustaining water and nutrients to the vine, branches, leaves and fruit to sustain plant growth.
The vine grower is ever observant. When the vine grower notices braches not producing he prunes them, leaves them to dry and burns them to create nutrients. The ashes are returned to the earth and serve as fertilizer which encourages more abundant growth of fruit.
Nothing is lost or wasted. Every person has a purpose which can be used to renew life! Good results in beautiful fruit and bad serves as fertilizer to grow more fruit!
The world actively seeks to destroy the vine and rip its roots out of the earth. The world seeks to own our children and our families and only faith stands in its path.
In the 2nd reading from 1 John we hear, how we shall know that we belong to the truth. The scholars cannot agree of the meaning the word associated with our hearts condemn.
We humans by nature all have that little voice that only we can hear. I am a sap, a failure, not worthy, not qualified, a sinner, am afraid, shy, or lack courage. The automatic judging and condemnation of ourselves is swift and often discourages us from reaching out beyond ourselves and taking the human risk to express love in deed! Many of us judge harshly. Then there are those who are always innocent – nothing should be condemned and an inability to face truthfulness is a stumbling block. No matter the reason, our little voice can prevent love from penetrating our hearts!
Our heart is the place within our souls where we make decisions. It is the place we choose good and/or evil. It is the place that triggers deeds or hold them bound.
Today’s story offers hope. From the sap (Jesus the vine & the sap = Holy Spirit) flowing through the vine out to the branches comes hope. God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. God can turn our sins and mistakes into food for new life if we ask believing in the name of Jesus Christ. God’s spirit will penetrate the place where we make our most intimate decisions that flow like life sustaining sap from the heart of Jesus Himself out to the people we meet.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. Do not be afraid to ask in the name of Jesus. Believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.