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'geranium 1' photo (c) 2010, waferboard - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Here is a sermon on John 15:1-8 for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B.  It’s really too long, but I’ve decided not to shorten it because there may be some stories in here that you can use.

Stay Rooted!

A Sermon on John 15:1-8

Peter was right to be concerned.  He and his companions didn’t want to be separated from Jesus.  “You cannot follow me now where I am going,” said Jesus on the night before he was betrayed, “but later you will follow me.”

“Lord, why can’t I follow you now?” cried Peter.  “I’m ready to die for you!”  Jesus looked at Peter and all the rest with compassion.  He knew what lay ahead.  After his arrest they would run away from him.  His death on the cross would sever Jesus from them traumatically.  But even after Easter brought a reunion and healing, other dangers would threaten the disciples’ connection with Jesus.  An enormous task lay ahead of them: bringing forth the fruits of God’s love in all the world.  It would be their mission to love as Christ loves and to be as he is in the world.  Jesus was well aware that it was too much for human strength alone.  Unless his disciples relied on his strength, burnout was certain.

The world itself would threaten their relationship with Christ.  In bad times, the world’s hostility would tempt the disciples to abandon him.  In good times, the world’s values of selfishness, power, materialism would tempt them to ignore him.  Peter was right to be concerned about being separated from Christ, but he didn’t know how right he was.

“This is how it is,” declared Jesus.  “This is how it is, and this is how it is going to be: I am the vine, and you are the branches.  Those who stay rooted in me and I in them will bear much fruit; for apart from me, you can do nothing.  Apart from me, nothing.  Whoever does not remain rooted in me is thrown out like a branch and dries up.  With me, you can bear much fruit.  Without me, you can do nothing.”  Peter was right!  Disconnection from Jesus is definitely something to be concerned about.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”  It was easy to grasp what Jesus meant.  Think about cut flowers. In a vase of water, the stalks continue to live for a while.  They drink water for a few days.  New buds continue to swell and open for a while.  But then it’s all over.  Cut off from the plant, the branches are doomed.  They are now useless.  They’re on their way to the compost pile.

Some years I hang baskets of ivy-leaf geraniums across our front porch.  From ivy geraniums I have learned that it is possible for branches to live in an in-between state: not totally cut off, but not fully attached either.  Ivy geraniums are in vine form.  The branches break off very easily.  If you move or transplant the vine, many times branches will break loose, so they’re holding on to the vine by a mere thread of tissue.  Somehow they limp along on this feeble connection and still manage to bloom.  But they’re frail.  They can’t bloom like they should because their connection is so poor.  I’ve learned to cut them off to encourage the plant to develop new, strong, firmly attached branches. (more…)

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