A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

Rooted for change and growth, John 15: 1-5, Nov. 23rd, 2014 November 25, 2014

Filed under: sermon — bweier001 @ 6:38 pm
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(This Sunday both Pastor Rob Moss and I preached on the same text. Please read his sermon at http://pastorrobmoss.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/what-the-fruit-john-151-5/)
Many of you know that I grew up in the Air Force and moved around quite a bit. In many ways, there was much instability in my early life, I suppose. I had 10 homes, five elementary schools, one jr. high and two high schools before I was 18. I was at a conference not long ago where the small group activity was to describe your bedroom from your childhood! I was deeply confused. Which one? So, it’s also no surprise that we went to quite a few churches. Most often the local Lutheran church closest to the base (lots of other military families), overseas we attended the base chapel, and sometimes we did a combination of the two. The churches were places of community and stability. Even from state to state, some aspects were familiar in each church. When we moved to Omaha, my parents were slightly amused as that the first thing I did at 15, was get out the yellow pages (it was the ‘80’s after all) and started calling churches to ask about worship times and other activities. I found one I liked and informed my family that we would be attending that Sunday. We were there for my last three years of high school and many of my close friends (some of whom I am still friends with) attended there. Not Mike. He was LCMS-that was a different problem. ☺
It wasn’t just the stability of church as a building that I was seeking, it was the idea that God was the same everywhere I went. It was the sense of rootedness in God regardless of wherever I was that provided my stability. John 15:5 was my confirmation verse and I think the appeal of it to me, at 14, was the idea that Jesus was never going to move on me, change location or be different. I knew that everything in life was movable, changeable and fluid and that was ok because Jesus stays constant and with us always. Being rooted in God wasn’t about sameness or stagnation for me (I didn’t have a concept of that) but was about my source of foundation and deeper truth about the world. Roots don’t necessarily hold you down, roots keep you centered and give you what you need to grow, bend and change with the seasons. To be rooted is to also be a part of a larger organism. Roots connect all of the branches, leaves and fruit. One root system provides life for all of the extensions of the vine and branches. I like being a part of that larger whole.
Jesus tells us that he is that root-the true vine. Jesus connects us all and gives us life, not just life in the here and now but promises life forever with God. These promises fill us with what we need to bear fruit not for ourselves, but for those who need what God is growing in us. We do this together as one vine rooted in the centeredness of Jesus’ love and grace. Each branch is necessary and is important to the overall health of the vine, but it’s when all of the branches come together that there is a rich harvest and enough for all. Just as we need to be rooted in Jesus to bear fruit, we also need each other to be fruitful. When we work together at the Action Center, Habitat for Humanity, Green Mountain Elementary or Molholm Elementary, in your work places, schools, or activities, we offer the world the very love and life of Christ that runs through our branches. It’s more than just doing good deeds: we offer fruit that provides more than sustenance for today, but offers all people true life-hope, love and joy for tomorrow and for eternal life with God.
This morning we celebrated those promises to Dean. We welcome Dean into the community of those rooted in Jesus Christ, the true vine. No matter where Dean goes in his life-he is always connected to this community and to the whole of God’s people-roots that will allow him to know that Jesus is with him always, a community of God’s people will always welcome him and his very life is in the life of God who loves him forever. It will allow him to bear fruit-to bring the love of God that shines through him to all people that he meets.
Rooted in our baptism we are interconnected, we matter to one another, we matter to the world and we matter to Jesus the vine. We are a part of something bigger than ourselves and bigger than our imaginations. Jesus abides with us and we can do nothing separate from Christ or one another. And the promise is that we are never separated from God or the people of God no matter what changes in our lives, no matter where we are today or where we may go tomorrow. Thanks be to God.