Sermon: May 10, 2009

11 05 2009

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

                                                             John 15:1–8

 

             You know, last Sunday after I finished with DZ@6 I went home.  While I was scanning TV – looking for something of interest to watch – I came across 60 Minutes.  They were doing a segment on the Antonio Family.  Now if you don’t know who the Antonio Family is, they are probably the most famous Wine making family in Italy.  What intrigue me about this family was the meticulous care and pride they took in producing their fine wines.  In what segment they talked about how in the Spring they would send workers out into their vineyards.  The job of these workers was to look for branches of the vines that were producing blossoms.  Without blossoms, of course, there would be no grapes.  Without grapes, there would be no wine.

            No I understood how important it was for the branches to have blossoms, because only those branches would have grapes.  But why was it necessary to send workers into the vineyards to physically remove those branches.  Seemed like a lot of work to go through simply to remove a branch that had no blossoms.  Why not just leave those branches on the vine.  After all they weren’t doing any harm, were they?  Well, actually they were doing harm.  That’s one of the things that I discovered in this segment of 60 Minutes.  You see these branches were drawing sustenance – life from the vine – but they were producing no fruit.  If you remove these useless branches, that means that the life giving energy of the vine can focus on the branches that will produce blossoms – which will produce grapes – which will produce wine.

            That’s what this story of Jesus is talking about.  Jesus is the vine.  He gives us life.  If we produce no fruit, then we are simply taking without giving anything back.  Jesus gives us life so that we can give back.  Back to God.  Back to this World.  Back to the Creatures that God loves.

            You know, last week – for those of you who were here – we heard from Kathy – the CEO and Founder of CAMO – Central American Medical Outreach.  She talked about how she came about founding CAMO – an organization that now touches 90,000 people a year in Honduras with necessary medical care.

            But, you know, that wasn’t what impressed me.  What impressed me was how deeply spiritual she was.  How she drew her strength and her inspiration from her relationship with Her Lord – with Jesus.  Without that she said that she wouldn’t have accomplished anything.  Every time there was a need.  Every time she reached a crisis.  Her Lord was there to supply her need and point her in the direction that she needed to go.

            That’s what this lesson is talking about.  We are connected to the Lord.  We draw our life from Him.  But what do we do with that life that God has given us?  One of my favorite quotes is the one that says – The life that we have is God’s Gift to us.  What we do with that Life is our Gift to God.

            What do we do with the life that God has given us?  What do we do with the time, the talents and the treasures that God has given us?  Over the course of my 40 years as a pastor I have seen countless people take the gifts that God has given them and produce fruit.

            One example of that is the Prayer Shawl Ministry.  There are ladies in this church who love to knit.  They will sit in front of the TV and knit.  They produce lovely shawls.  We take these shawls and give them away.  We give them to members of Zion or friends of members of Zion.  I take about five a week and give them to people at the hospital.  Last week I gave one away to a woman who is dying of cancer.  She probably only has weeks to live.  She has tried everything.  Surgery.  Chemotherapy.  Radiation.  Nothing has worked.  I could tell that she had given up when I entered the room.  After I prayed with her I went back to my office and got a prayer shawl and gave it to her.  I told her that this prayer shawl was to serve as a reminder that whatever tomorrow brought, she should always remember that it also brings God.  She smiled.  By the way this woman is 27 years old.  Soon she will be with her lord.  But for a brief moment those who sit in front of TV’s and knit brought some joy and some hope to a beautiful young girl.

            We have some other unsung heroes here.  We call them Deacons.  They go out and visit our elderly – the sick – the shut-ins.  They visit them at least once a month.  They take them communion.  But most important of all they help them remember that they have not been forgotten.

            We have ladies who gather here a couple of times a month.  We call them Project Day.  They make School Kits.  Health Kits.  They produce for Lutheran World Relief.  They come here and share their talents and touch lifes.

            What gifts do you have?  What lifes can you touch?  What people can you help to feel the love of Jesus?  Remember what Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples in that you love one another.”  Or as one of my personal heroes said, “Some people see the way things are and say WHY.  I dream dreams that never were and say why not.”  You are branches.  He is the vine.  Dream dreams that never were and say WHY NOT.

 

Amen!

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