Sunday, May 10, 2009

Easter 5

Today's readings: Acts 8:26-40, 1 John 4:1-11, and John 15:1-8 (sermon text).

In an ancient culture or two, there is a maturation ritual for the young men, in which they are tethered by vines to the highest branches of a tree, must jump, and in doing so must trust the village elders who fastened the vines. Like them, we are connected to the Vine - without it, we are dead. We need to trust fully the One who has connected us to it. We are part of Him, and He is part of us; this is seen clearly in the Sacrament of the Altar. It's inconceivable to us that many do not want to be connected safely.

But we're not the ones gripping the Vine! There is no such thing as us reaching out and hanging on to God...rather, He hangs on to us. Only this true Vine will give us life. There are many false vines striving for our attention. Life is indeed a jungle - popularity and drugs, to name just two false vines. But the more intertwined with the Vine we become, the better we can reject the false vines and weather the storms in life.

Poorly connected branches come loose in a storm. It's in your best interests to let Christ the Vine connect securely to you. Also, we have as the owner (vinedresser, caretaker) our Father. He abundantly cares for us; He is a very meticulous Gardener. Every branch must be either pruned (good branches) or burned (dead ones) - pruning increases the fruit a branch bears. The entire effect may resemble a topiary tree, with its elegant and precise shape, but this requires the exact pruning of every branch in His church.

As God has loved us, so let us love one another for His glory.

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