I AM the Vine

This sermon was given by Rev Deborah on Sunday 29 April 2018.

  • Acts 8:26-40
  • 1 John 4:7-21
  • John 15:1-8

Close your eyes and imagine that you are a plant. Not any plant, but a particular kind: a climbing, clinging plant grown against a wall, The sunny wall of a house in a hot country; but it is a country where you are at home and you grow well. You have been planted there by the owner of the house because you grow well and because you will give welcome shade. So, a trellis has been built – a framework of weathered wood – and you have sent out your tendrils onto the trellis, taken hold and are growing there too, your luxuriant leaves shading the terrace underneath, and the benches where people can sit in the heat of the day. You have been here a long time. Your main stem is old and gnarled, rough to touch but beautiful in its own way. 

Your roots are deep. Feel them going down into the earth, unseen, yet still as much part of you as the leaves that dance in the breeze. Feel your roots seeking water deep down, drawing nourishment into your whole being. Feel your leaves draw energy from the sun and turn it, in their cells into strength for the whole of you. Feel your tendrils alive, sensitively seeking new directions in which you can grow, and holding onto the rough stone and warm wood so that the wind does not damage you. Feel your fruits forming, filling out becoming juicy, delicious and nourishing. Feel how each part of you is connected and draws strength from the other parts. Feel the joy in being the healthy fruitful plant that God meant you to be.

People are coming down the track, A group of people talking. They come to the house, stop on the terrace. Someone from the house brings them cool drinks. They sit in your shade, talking. Mostly they are listening to one man, Who seems to be explain something to them. They look puzzled. Suddenly he reaches out, touches your stem, Gestures to your leaves and fruit and says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower …. Abide in me as I abide in you.’

Jan Sutch Pickard from Dandelions and Thistles Wild Goose Publications

‘Abide’, not as common nowadays and yet it is used eight times in this short passage. It is also mentioned in our second reading – God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.’ The Greek word for ‘abide’ is difficult to translate into English in a way that adequately conveys all its various shades of meaning. Translations include ‘remain in me’, ‘dwell with me’, ‘remain united to me’. More modern definitions include ‘stay with me’, ‘remain with me’. In old-fashioned English the place you lived was called ‘your abode’, the place where you ‘abide’. To ‘abide’ in Jesus is to live in Jesus or dwell in him, to see Jesus as in some sense your home. But also, in old English the word carries the meaning of ‘staying put’, so that if someone says, ‘bide here for a while until I come back’, they mean ‘stay here’, ‘remain in me’. The Message version of the Bible says ‘Live in me. Make your home in me just as I make my home in you.’

Abide in me as I abide in you.’

Jesus has gathered his disciples around him and wants to prepare them. He foresees the hardships and death that he is about to face. As he meets with his followers one last time, he yearns to console them. He knows the trials that they will face in the days ahead. But at the same time Jesus invites his disciples to enter into a more profound relationship by urging them to ‘abide in him’. Rather than sounding a note of despair, Jesus speaks a word of hope and trust for their souls. Reassurance comes from remaining close to Jesus, weathering whatever storms may come.

‘Abide in me as I abide in you.’

When someone is having a difficult time we often say ‘hang in there’

which is not very helpful to those who are desperately wondering how to do just that. Jesus offers more than just ‘hanging on’. Hard times will invariably come, but living, abiding and finding our home in Jesus the vine and God the grower sustains us, promoting in greater well-being and brings a sense of peace to the turmoil that can characterise our life. The Hebrew idea of shalom – wholeness, completeness, well-being and peace address the deep yearnings of our hearts. Shalom enters all the cuts and hurts that we endure day to day life.

‘Abide in me as I abide in you.’

Abiding is not, however, becoming stagnant. The purpose of the vine is to produce fruit. Bearing fruit grows from union with Christ, the true vine. Left alone, vines, will grow uncontrollably and result in one big, tangled mess. The vine grower need to keep the vines in order. He needs cut away lifeless, unproductive branches and prune those branches that are productive. Young vines are not allowed to produce fruit for the first few years. This means that pruning is needed each season so that the plant can develop to its fullest. The Greek word ‘kathario’ is translated as ‘prune’ and ‘cleanse’ and God, the vine dresser, is the one who does the cleansing so that we, his disciples, bear much fruit. Abiding and pruning work together. This is illustrated with the chorus of a song by John Bell.

‘I am the vine and you are the branches

Pruned and prepared for all to see:

Chosen to bear the fruit of heaven

If you remain and trust in me.’

 

‘Abide in me as I abide in you.’

 

Amen.


One thought on “I AM the Vine

  1. This is a very nice piece of writing! Your sincere emotions and honesty is profound and it perfectly reflected in this masterpiece. Truly impressive! Hi, I am Ragazza, I hope you could follow my blog page. Thank you! 🙂

    Like

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