Summary: A sermon for the 5th Sunday of Easter
5th Sunday after Easter
"Are YOU Attached???
15:1 ¶ "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.RSV
"A dusty traveler walked up the steps of a small, neatly kept farmhouse. "Hello, what do you want?" asked the farm wife greeting him at the door.
The stranger answered only with a question, "Does God live here?"
The woman was startled. She thought she might have misunderstood. Once again she asked:"What is it that you want?"
The tired-looking man’s reply was the same: "Does God live here?" With that, the woman slammed the door shut in the visitor’s face and ran out to the back of the house to see her husband....
He became incensed when he heard of the stranger’s question. "Didn’t you tell him we attend church without fail every Sunday?" he asked his wife.
"That wasn’t what he asked, John," she replied, "He asked, ’Does God live here?’"
"Well, didn’t you tell him we are heavy contributor and that you are active in the guild, while I’ve been an elder for 8 years?" he asked as his voice was now becoming more distraught.
"That wasn’t what he asked, John. He asked, ’Does God live here?’" she said again, this time more softly.
They just sat down on the back step, looked quietly into each other’s eyes, and thought more and more about that man’s question. Then John said, "Yes, Mary, God does live here, behind all the busy activities of our life in the church is the firm foundation of faith which believes God does dwell in our hearts."
Mary smiled at John and said, "Ours might be a poor farm, our lives might be difficult, but yes, yes, John, I believe God does live with us. We are attached to Him and He to us. Yes, John, God does live here."
"Does God live here??" That is a particular difficult question for anyone to answer. For in answering that question, one might want to possess God so much that God becomes not the omnipotent creator and king of the world, but a God which is pulled out of one’s pocket like a handkerchief. Or God can be so distant that one feels alienated from Him with no personal attachment.
It is just this kind of question, "Does God live here?", which is addressed by our gospel lesson this morning. Jesus is using the story, the illustration of the grape vine to describe how we are His children, His followers are attached to Him, how we abide in Him and He abides in us. Jesus says: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
Jesus, I think, is addressing three groups in His statement concerning the vine and the branches. And to each group is implied the question, "Does God live here?", or "Are you attached to the vine, to Christ?"
The first group Jesus is addressing is that group which bears no fruit. Jesus says:"Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away....and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." This group is the so called dead wood. The dead wood on a grape vine was cut away and burnt. It was good for nothing. Jesus is saying something about judgment here.
A pastor tells this story." He and his son were cleaning out wild grape vines one day. They were lush and profuse and had climbed to the tops of the oak and maple trees. They were lovely to look at, but they were choking out the hardwood trees. They were useless, for they bore no fruit. Not even the wood was good for burning in the fireplace."