Sunday, May 10, 2009

Well Connected - A Sermon

This light (hold up a light) can do a lot of good in a dark place.  It lets me read at night, it lets me walk around without stumbling into things.  It lets me see people I love.

But without its power source (hold up unplugged cord), it doesn’t do much more good than a stick.  It has to be connected.  

We are like lights.  Or to change metaphors, we are branches that can’t live, certainly can’t bear fruit, without being connected to the vine.  We need to be connected -- and our vine is Christ.

Being connected to Christ empowers us to do what is loving (bear fruit) -- and without him we can do nothing loving (bear no fruit).

What sort of loving things?  Bearing fruit means not only doing good things but growing in God’s love -- deeper relationship.  Bearing witness, learning, intensifying one’s own life.  Resisting the world’s temptations to believe that we are what we earn, that we must always “produce” always be active always win.  Living lives that are less results oriented and more relationship based.

Without being connected, could Phillip have moved from the fear and confusion that was Jerusalem in those days (it was shortly after Steven was killed there) to preaching in Samaria where he met with great success, to the bold insertion of himself into the Ethiopian eunuch’s high-powered life?  

I mean, the Ethiopian was a court official (that’s probably why he was a eunuch -- it was common for high court officials to be eunuchs in the Near East).  You don’t just interrupt their reading.  But Phillip was directed by God

How are we connected?  How do we stay connceted?  Like a kiss that connects us with our loved ones, there are the sacraments -- that’s why we gather each week to share communion.  

That’s why we baptize together (not in private).  That’s why we confess.

That’s why we worship together.

But we also pray apart -- listening, sitting with the Holy Spirit.  We also study the scriptures -- reading the journals of our forebears to know their struggles and joys in the way so that we can know them and God better.  This is what it means to be connected.

Without it we have no power.  No fruit.  No abililty to know God in our hearts let alone share that divine love through selfless acts and brave words.

Mind you, being well connected doesn’t make things fun and joyful all the time.  Even Jesus said the branches get pruned from time to time.  The very image makes me wince.  But there you have it -- even having that intense connection with God in Christ doesn’t take us out of this world with all its hardship.

It just gives us power to see beyond the surface troubles and into the deeper life that’s often hiding in plain sight.

I pray for you and me that we be connected.  That we intensify our connection with God every day -- and in doing so bear much fruit indeed.  Amen.