May 3, 2015 – We are the branches

Easter 5 May 3 2015 (Ps 92, Galatians 5:22-6:2, 1 John 4:7-16) John 15:1-11 We are the branches ***************** Back when I was in high school, one of my best friends lived in the Grapevine Cottage, so-named because it was once the residence of Ephraim Wales Bull, hybridizer of the Concord Grape (in 1849). There’s a historical plaque outside the house, and every year a few Concord grape historians would knock on the Laire family’s door and ask if they could see the original vine (which, Wikipedia says, is still there, bearing fruit, a hundred-sixty-some-years-after-it’s-planting.) My friend Chuck was a drummer who played with a rock band that rehearsed in Chuck’s family’s basement. Before they finally picked a name, Ephraim Wales Bull and the Concord Grapes was a semi-finalist candidate for the band’s name… We’re talking today about the fruit of the vine. And the idea behind the Concord Grape was to get a good tasting grape that could flourish in New England’s cool climate… And the grape was a great success. It was never a contender to go up against French fine wine grapes – the Concord grape is not something you’d ever try to turn into Cabernet Sauvignon. But with a little sugar added, it became a hit. And today and every Communion Sunday, we Methodists have been drinking Concord grapes in our communion juice, ever since a Wesleyan Methodist named Welch started bottling his grape juice, initially for the temperance movement-influenced Methodist market. But backing up just a little… The Concord grape came into being through hybridization of cultivated grapes with indigenous wild grapes. Which is a bit like what’s happening here in Jesus’ hybrid saying – “I am the true vine, you are the branches.” Jesus combines imagery found in the psalms and prophets of Israel – holding together different strands of the bible in his own unique identity – and here’s Jesus, Son of God, in the center of his hybrid mixed-metaphor. Jesus brings together voices from Israel’s wisdom traditions, which affirm the beauty and grace of God’s created order and the rational nature of human order – and the wild, untamed voices of Israel’s prophets, who spoke in judgement on Israel and the nations. The word of Jesus here is simultaneously blessing and judgement – with Jesus in the middle, mediating layers of meaning. Vine and vineyard are prime biblical symbols. In Psalm 80 Israel is called God’s vine which he brought out from Egypt and planted in the land. Israel laments that God hasn’t duly protected his own vine from its enemies. Meanwhile, in the scroll of the prophet Isaiah (ch 5) God says to Israel, ‘Yes, you’re my vineyard, Israel – I planted you and nurtured you. And I expected good grapes – but you’re giving me nothing but sour grapes.’ And according to the book of the prophet Ezekiel (ch 15) non-productive branches of the vine of Israel are heading for the fire, much like in John 15. (Jesus recycles.) And here’s Jesus, drawing on all these parts of tradition – saying I am the true vine. You are the branches. Abide in me, as I abide in you. Bear fruit befitting the grace God gives. And bearing fruit only happens through organic connection with Christ. Jesus gives this metaphor...

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Week of May 3, 2015- Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, May 3rd: 11:00 AM Worship & Church School 12:30 PM Book Group in Perry Room Monday, May 4th: 1:00 PM UMW Meeting Wednesday, May 6th: 10:30 AM Bourne Women’s Club Thursday, May 7th: 1:00 PM Bible Study at Bourne UMC Sunday, May 10th: 11:00 AM Worship & Church School 12:30 PM Book Group in Perry Room Monday, May 11th: 7:00 PM Worship Committee BOOK GROUP TODAY: Today at 12:30 we’re all invited to a discussion of Wright’s booklet, The Challenge of Easter. We’ll meet in the Perry Room (for an hour or less) for the next couple weeks. The book has five chapters, each about a fifteen minute read. Copies of the book are available from Tim (no charge). All warmly welcome. MAY NEWSLETTER IS AVAILABLE! Please pick up your copy on the way out today if you receive a hard copy, or check your email for the e-version. There are also extra copies on the table in Crain Hall. Please submit an address card to the church office if you’d like to be added to our mailing list. NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, MAY 7th: There will be a gathering at Bourne Town Hall, Perry Street in Buzzards Bay, 12pm to 1pm, for the offering of prayers for the nation and town and those who lead. LITURGISTS ARE NEEDED for Sunday, May 24th, and Sunday, May 31st, please sign up on the list in Crain Hall. ALTAR FLOWERS are needed for Sunday, May 31st. Please sign up!  ...

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