May 6, 2021
for Sunday, May 9
1 John 5:1-6
Pastor Jonathan Deiler, Dean, Genesee Finger Lakes Conference
Last week I wrote about how severely grape vines, apple trees, and other fruit crops are often pruned. The severe pruning is essential for them to maximize productivity. This week's gospel reading picks up where we left off. Thoughts about pruning and productivity continue. However, this week we need to focus our minds on the characteristics of grape vines, not trees.
Vines and trees grow differently. Vines grow into a tangled mass. Trees send individual branches outward. As we continue to follow Jesus' words through the gospel, I suspect many people will picture their faith more like a tree than a vine. They will agree that they are a branch. They are connected to (or abide in) Jesus the main vine (trunk?). They then see themselves being called by God to use their talents and abilities in unique and individual ways. For them the church is a collection of branches all growing and producing separately.
Vines are different. In the New Interpreter's Bible commentator Gail O' Day notes, "The image of community is one of interrelationship, mutuality, and indwelling. To get the full sense of this interrelationship, it is helpful to visualize what the branches of a vine actually look like. In a vine, branches are almost completely indistinguishable from one another; it is impossible to determine where one branch stops and another branch starts. All run together as they grow out of the central vine. What this vine image suggests about community, then, is that there are no free-standing individuals in community, but branches who encircle one another completely." (Volume 9, Pg. 760)
I believe that is the image we need to have in our minds as we move through our verses for today. We do not live as individuals trying to be productive for God. The community of faith Jesus creates is an intertwined one.
Jesus speaks of "abiding" in his love. The hymnAbide with Me comes to my mind. It conjures up gentle and caring images of life with God. Indeed, it can be nice to imagine snuggling up close to God and feeling warmth and goodness. But abiding is also a much more a powerful idea. Have you ever tried to pull a wild grape vine from a tree? Talk about entanglement! It is sometimes possible to pull it out, but you will be pulling and tugging with all your might! That vine definitely wants to abide in the tree. And so too do we abide in God. Yes, abiding is a peaceful image. But it is also a ferocious and tenacious one. God's love will not let go!
Jesus' disciples - who heard the words that were written into John's gospel, the community of faith - that first read John's gospel, and we - who read John's gospel today are all part of God's great vine that stretches through the ages. God has made us part of something that is much bigger than ourselves. We abide in God and with each other. We seek to love one another with the same selfless love of Jesus.
And by God we bear fruit that will last. That fruit makes our lives meaningful. It is fruit that gives our existence a purpose. Thanks be to God who created us, loves us, saves us, and gives life meaning!
[Jesus said:] 9"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."
• For our community of faith as we seek to do God’s work in the world.
• For those in our congregation and community who suffer silently with illness, financial burdens, and family obligation.
• For people affected by coronavirus, their families, essential workers, doctors, nurses, aides, those working in nursing homes, etc.
• For victims of wildfires, flooding and earthquakes.
• For Gene Heil, Pastor Ivy Gauvin, Karen Johnson, Roy Pihl, George and Janet Balcom, Beverly Klang, Trudy Fetzner, Mabel Tranum, Thom Shagla, Matt Isaacson, Dave Bentley, Alice Swartz, Skip Anderson, Jim Sheehy, Karen Brown, Dan Burns, Beth Gardner, Barb Mattern, Joseph Gauvin, Emerson Allaby, Sarah Van Staalduinen, and Dick Starks. For those serving in the military and law enforcement and their families, including Ben Wickerham and Jeffrey Clauson, those caught up in violence and war who have no safe home in which to live.
• For all children, that the love of Christ may reach them through all of us who have resources to love, protect, pray and provide for them.
• For the ELCZ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe and ELCZa Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia.
Names will remain of the Prayer List for a month - at which
time it will be taken off unless, or course, there is still a continued need
for our prayers and we’re asked to keep the name on.
Spring Work Day
Saturday May 8th 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Adult Bible Study
This 4 week Bible Study of Hannah in the book of Samuel, will focus on how God uses us in chaos and challenge. It is titled “The Year that Changed the World” by “The Potter House” Please call Sarah if you have any questions - 450-2986.
***We continuously collect food items for the 5 & 2 Ministry. Bring your donations and place in the black bin in church narthex. Lists detailing items needed are also available in the narthex. Monetary donations welcome! Contact Gale-Svenson-Campbell for details .
***5 & 2 Ministry Food Bins Donated to Date: 91
***ONLINE GIVING now available at St. Timothy for Debit/Credit cards. 3 ways to give:
- Go directly to our website at
- Use our QR code with the QR reader on your smartphone
- Download the app ‘GivePlus Church’. Create an account.
For further information, see Kathy Carlson on Sundays or call her at 485-1316.
We continuously collect food items for the 5 & 2 Ministry. Bring your donations and place in the black bin in church narthex. Lists detailing items needed are also available in the narthex. Monetary donations welcome! Contact Gale-Svenson-Campbell for details .
Collected to date: 92 Bins!!
While Pastor Ivy is out recuperating, you can contact
Pastor Heather Allport-Cohoon if there is a need for pastoral care.
She can be reached at 716-708-6466.