[#pictureLent] March 21: VINE

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By Rev. Sarah B. Miller
Senior Pastor, Tuskawilla UMC
Casselberry, Florida


First, read John 15:1-8

Whenever I am craving a fresh dose of inspiration I usually turn to my pin-spiration boards. One day while browsing online I came across a striking canvas that was painted with these words, “Everything I do and say tells the story of who I’m serving.” 

What a beautiful statement. What a bold statement. 

What a challenging statement. 

Does everything I do and say tell the story of who I am serving? Do my words and deeds reveal Jesus to everyone I meet? Do my words and deeds illustrate my relationship with Jesus? 

Jesus’ final “I Am” statement describes the interconnectedness shared between Jesus and his disciples with him in the First Century and with him in the Twenty-First Century! Jesus’ final “I Am” statement describes their and our relationship with Jesus, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine” (Jn 15:4). 

Jesus is our source for teaching and correcting, for encouraging and motivating! It is vital that we remain connected to him through prayer, reading Scripture, worship, conversations with mentors, and fellowship with faith-filled peers so that as we grow in years, we grow in our faith and in our understanding of how Jesus desires us to engage our faith in the world. 

When we engage our faith in the world after the example of Jesus, we produce fruit. Not apples and oranges, but love, peace, joy, gentleness, and compassion for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our neighbors near and far. 

When a branch is separated from a vine that is rooted into the ground, its nourishment and growth stops. It might remain strong for a little while, but it will eventually whither and break. By remaining connected to Jesus and to his people, we will be strengthened and equipped for any and every service Jesus will ask us to do. Jesus assures “My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples” (Jn 15:8). We will produce good fruit and in everything we do and say we will tell the story of who we serve. 
Prayer: Jesus, you are the vine and we are your branches. When we are weak, strengthen us by your grace. When we become disconnected from you, draw us back quickly through your forgiveness. When our words or deeds are tempted to not tell your story, fortify our faith so that we speak, lead, and serve with boldness. In the power of your mighty name we pray. Amen. 

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. What are you doing and saying that tells the story of who you are serving?
2. What is your favorite way to connect and stay connected with Jesus?
3. How is your connection with Jesus leading you in engaging and living our your faith?