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Monthly Archives: November 2014

What the Fruit? (John 15:1-5)

(This is 1/2 of the message at Lutheran Church of the Master, Lakewood, CO on November 23, 2014. The first half was given by Pr Brigette Weier, https://alutheransayswhat.wordpress.com/)

Jesus talks here about vines and branches and fruit. He’s talking about a vineyard. What is the thing that defines success for a vineyard? Grapes! Isn’t that what a vineyard is actually for?

You can have a vineyard with pretty leaves, straight rows, beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, but unless it’s producing grapes–the fruit–it isn’t really a vineyard.

So when Jesus talks about us being branches on the vine in a vineyard, he’s talking about us bearing fruit. Everything is about the fruit. If we are the branches, our purpose is to bear fruit. It’s about the fruit. If the branches aren’t bearing fruit, they’re removed. Those that are producing fruit are pruned in order to bear more fruit. Because it’s not about the branches, it’s about the fruit.

What would you call a vineyard where the vines had a whole bunch of branches, but there were no grapes? Not a very good vineyard. Because the goal isn’t seeing how many branches the vine grows, but how much fruit can be produced by whatever branches there are on the vine.

The point here is that Jesus is making sure we, who are he branches, know our purpose as part of God’s vineyard. Our measure of success is the amount of fruit, not the number of branches. That is the biggest failure of the church: the counting of branches–church members, instead of counting the fruit–the purpose of the church.

We are connected to Jesus who is he vine in order for us branches to produce fruit. So, what is the fruit? What is the fruit of God’s vineyard, God’s reign? What is God wanting for the world? . . .

Love, peace, mercy, patience, compassion, generosity . . . The very attributes of God, the nature of God, the character of God. That’s the fruit we produce and scatter in the world. That’s why we are branches connected to the vine. That’s why we are connected to one another in Christ. So that the world can receive this fruit. So that all people will experience unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy, and generosity. That is the fruit we bear. That is what we scatter in the world. That is why we are connected to the life-giving vine that is  Jesus Christ.

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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Sermon

 

“Blessed Are Those Who Mourn, For They Will be Comforted” (Matthew 5:1-12)

Usually when I preach on the Beatitudes, I try and and cover them all, or at least clumps of them. That way I feel like I’m dealing with the whole text. But today I want to focus on just one of these nine “Blessed” statements.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

I believe LCM as a whole congregation is in mourning. Along with other significant changes, we’ve suffered quite a few deaths in recent years. More than we have ever experienced in our history. We don’t have enough time to grieve one loss before we have to start grieving another. The grief has kind of piled up on us. For some of you, these losses include family members or very dear friends, and the grief is dripping off you because you’ve been immersed in it.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Some of you may not have known those who’ve died well at all. But if you are part of this congregation, if you call LCM home, you are affected by the communal grief we are all experiencing together.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Maybe you’ve noticed the effects of the grief here. It comes out in different ways among us. See if you notice us experiencing any of these symptoms of grief.

Our energy level is low. We have little energizing desire to commit to something new. We’re a little more apathetic than we used to be.

Maybe we’re a little angrier or more short-tempered than usual. We get defensive or discouraged about things that may not be that big a deal. Our emotions may be a little closer to the surface than normal. We get frustrated because things don’t seem to be going back to normal.

Perhaps you feel like we’re just walking through ministry just to be doing something. Yeah, it’s stuff we should be doing, but there’s not a lot of enthusiasm for it. Let someone else take care of it because not much of it seems to matter, really.

Or maybe something else. There are lots of ways that grief is expressed. But there’s no way a community can experience the loss that we’ve collectively experienced and not be affected by our grief. Grief is real, and the effects of it are just as real.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

LCM is mourning. And God has never been closer to us.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” isn’t a statement about what we ought to be doing or how to get comfort or anything else like that. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” is a statement about God. We are grieving, so God comes close to us. We are mourning, so God is comforting us. It has nothing to do with our righteousness or our faithfulness or our doctrine. It has everything to do with a God who knows our loss and our hurt. A God who knows we need to be held and loved and comforted. Jesus tells us here that that is exactly what God is doing.

I think congregationally we can cut ourselves a little slack here. Grief runs its own path in its own time.

I think congregationally we can be a little bit patient with ourselves. Mourning is hard.

I think congregationally we can afford to be a little bit tender with each other, because we’re all experiencing the effects of grief.

I think congregationally we can take some time to comfort one another, because God is holding us in God’s own comforting arms.

We’ll get through this. And we’ll do it together. We’ll carry each other and comfort each other and love each other and be very gentle with each other. We’ll do this because God is comforting us today.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in Sermon

 
 
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