S (Scripture): John 15:1 Jesusnsaid, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 2 He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. 3 You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.”
O (Observation): Jesus knows that his time with his disciples is coming to a close. He sees how they don’t quite understand that he promises to be with them. Indeed, they can do nothing apart from him!
So he brings forth this earthly image of a vine and a Gardner who will tend the vine. Jesus is the vine and his followers are the branches…and God oversees it all.
The disciples, as they remain in Jesus for their hope and connection to God, will bear fruit. They will do ministry that matters, when they do it in Jesus’ name and for Jesus’ sake.
And what makes them worthy? Nothing, other than the fact that Jesus has already made them clean.
A (Application): I have had some very disappointing online conversations with people over the last week. I’ve had 6 friends share with me (or with the Facebook world) regarding how they have been harassed for being female, gay, or Muslim. People have said ugly things to my friends in public, in Murfreesboro and other places (specifically in the southeast).
Now…some people think these stories are ALL made up, completely fabricated. Sadly, that does happen. And it’s been shown that this happens. But even more sad is the fact that ALL of my friends’s stories are being discredited, because of some incidents that proved to be false. I stand with my friends who have been harassed and I believe their stories. I am disgusted by the behavior of these people who physically or verbally attacked my friends and I pray for them.
I don’t understand how some people can be so quick to discredit my friends and dismiss their stories as overblown or that my sharing them is only spreading unfounded fear. That by sharing their stories, I am doing more harm than good.
I can be wrong, but I don’t see how someone who supports the rights of gays and lesbians would be so vindictive that they would be moved to write “Gay Church” (as a derogatory term) on two different Episcopal churches recently, just to make us hate groups that hate gays and lesbians. It’s crazy.
Again, I know cases exist if this crazy reverse hate stuff, but I refuse to believe that is the norm.
I admit that it’s hard for this straight, white, male pastor to relate to being vulnerable. I’ve had lots of things go my way in life, in part because I work hard, but also in part because of the systemic structures in place that have helped me to be where I am.
But seeing the world through the eyes of those who are oppressed and downtrodden is indeed a shock.
I’ve also been accused of keeping things moving in a negative way, deepinging the disunity around us. Well, if that’s that it takes to get people talking, then so be it…for now. Because those who don’t see any problems are part of the problem.
I hope to live a life connected to Christ. Indeed my baptism points to that connection and keeps it my whole life long. And as I study the Scriptures daily, and serve the community where I live, I will continue to speak of loving my neighbor…and maybe even my enemies (though difficult it will be).
Actually, I don’t have it in me to love my enemies…but Jesus does. And I am connected to Jesus…so maybe, just maybe…I will see where God takes me…into the streets…into homes…alongside my enemies….so that I can love all as Christ loves all.
P (Prayer): Lord, keep me going. Help me not to mistake the temporary for the eternal. Help me to know that I am rooted in you! Amen.