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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Nourishing those who come to him

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose

The readings during the Sundays of Easter speak to the ways in which the resurrection of the Savior lead to the ever-expanding community of believers, as well as what it means to be a follower of the risen Lord. Words were used to try to capture the indescribable in many ways. Metaphors, allegories, parable, as well as simple prose were used to describe what this new life in Christ meant for those whom the Spirit lead to faith.

Don Rose

The Gospel reading that many will hear this week is in part the familiar story of the vine and the branches. In what has become an allegorical style the gospel writer tells of the intimate connection that exist between Jesus as the vine and his followers as the branches. Jesus makes it clear that the life-giving power of the Spirit is only available if the branches are firmly attached to the vine, if Jesus’ followers are firmly connected to Jesus himself. One important thing to note is that the vine will be able to continue without particular branches but that no branch will survive without the nourishment of the vine.

This picture that Jesus shares reminds God’s children of the importance of their life lived in community. Like the earliest followers so today’s followers are called to be of one mind in their faithful devotion to Jesus the Christ. God’s people are much more than individuals as they are called into community together to love and to witness to the world. The life of faith is not one of “I, me, and mine” but rather one of “we, us, and ours.” One’s consideration is drawn to a larger venue than one’s own vision of the world. A believer is called to consider the other as well as one’s self in decisions that are made and actions that are taken. Together God’s people bear Christ’s name to the ends of the earth, and it is in that shared witness that the world comes to be exposed to the fullness of God’s love and grace.

Today’s world is filled with the language of “I want” and “I can do.”  Though there may be some merit in such language by the standards of the world, the language of family and connectedness in Christ draws God’s people away from self to an awareness of the community known as the body of Christ. It is in the active love of that community that witness will be made. That love is possible only when the branches are nourished by the vine and Jesus’s followers are strengthened and nourished by their intimate connection with him. Together with the vine branches will flourish. Apart they have no life in themselves.

In the resurrection, Jesus has become that vine that will nourish all who are connected to him. In him there is life and grace beyond measure, beyond anything that humans might hope or desire. Firmly connected to this vine of life, even pruning will not have the power to destroy. And to think that it all comes as a free gift of God’s overwhelming love for the whole of creation. Thanks be to God.

Don Rose is pastor of Mansfield and United Lutheran churches.