Always Fasten Your Seat Belt
I’m just old enough to remember the days before seat belt laws. When We traveled to Georgia to see relatives in our 1978 Ford LTD station wagon, the six of us would pile in. My assigned spot was in the very back. Luggage was packed on one side and on the other I made my pallet.
I’ve noticed on the times I’ve flown there is a priority of fastening the seat belt so that you are anchored in the event the ride gets turbulent. It’s one of the first things you do when you sit down; we are even shown how to fasten the seatbelt in the Pre-flight instructions.
We are now told to always fasten our seatbelts while seated on flights because you never know when turbulence will hit, we want to be anchored in, connected to the movement of the plane.
That’s a lesson in life – you never know when turbulence will hit – always fasten your seatbelt, anchor in– have a close connection to the protection you have available.
I want us to grasp the importance today of always being fastened to Jesus because we never know when turbulence will hit.
We encounter a passage today that is an anchoring passage for Jesus followers. It’s a vivid passage of a vineyard. This image of a vinedresser would have been very relative to Jesus’ followers not only have they walked passed or through vineyards but they know the Old Testament references of Isaiah and Ezekiel.
There is a vinedresser who cuts off the deadwood and prunes the fruitful. There is image of a brush pile with withering branches that are burned.
Jesus declares himself as the vine and proclaims us as the branches.
Jesus’ desire for us is that we would bear much fruit, abiding in his love.
This is our anchor, our seatbelt – abiding in the love of Jesus.
Abide that’s a churchy word; you probably didn’t use it this week.
Abide means to remain.
Remain in the love of Jesus.
You know about remaining.
Years ago I didn’t something very unusual for me – I went to a theme park by myself. The lines were low and I was over zealous. At that time there was a ride named Chang – I rode it 8 times in a row – as I was laying down to sleep that night – it was obvious that the ride was remaining with me.
You’ve probably experienced this after canoeing, whitewater rafting, playing a video game, watching a TV show or reading a book – the experience remains with you.
A grandfather shared this week that his grandchildren spent the night with he and his wife. One child likes to sleep near granddaddy the other near grandmother. This grandfather shared how all night long his grandchild kept one foot on him all night long. He wanted to be near his grandfather to remain with him through the night. That’s how Jesus wants to be with us – to be near us, to remain with us, through the good times and the turbulent times.
I’m sure that the grandson knowns that granddaddy loves him – not only in his head, but in his heart and he wants to be connected to him even through the night.
Do you know God’s love, not only in your head but your heart? If God’s love does not seem real to you, ask God to give you this knowledge in your heart. Ask to feel loved and accepted.
There was a monumental moment for Jesus in knowing the Father’s love. It occurs very early in Mark’s account, just after the introduction to the wilderness Wildman who looked something like Mick Dodge.
Jesus eases down to the water’s edge to be baptized. When he comes out of the water, the heavens tear open and the Holy Spirit descends on him and a voice is heard, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
At this point Jesus had performed no miracles, confronted no Pharisees, called no disciples, told no stories, taught no concepts and yet he receives the Father’s approval – just as he was, just where he was.
God does the same for you – loving you just as you are, just here you are – define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice to love you constitute your worth. Accept it, and let it become the most important thing in your life.
Intimacy with God requires effort and discipline on our part. Look at Jesus’ pattern of prayer and communion with the Father. It allowed him a deep connection – a fastened seatbelt for the turmoil to come.
Here’s a reality in our lives – turmoil will come – We better have our seatbelt fastened
Today we are ending our service in a special way. We are going to participate in a special time allowing the Holy Spirit to descend on us as individuals and as a congregation. You will be invited to remember your baptism and the commitment God made at your baptism a commitment of unconditional, radical love for you.