We Are Christ-Connected for a Reason!
The text for this sermon is John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon on May 6, 2012, the Fifth Sunday of Easter. At the 8:30 service, children and families from the Resurrection Lutheran School attended worship.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Jesus was such a great teacher. No wonder people came from near and far to hear him. Today we hear him using one of the memorable “I Am” sayings in the gospel of John. You remember them: I am the light of the world…I am the good shepherd…I am the door. Today it is: “I am the vine, you are the branches. And he goes on to say: Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
I’ve given this sermon a title: We Are Christ-Connected for a Reason! It is my hope and
prayer that by the end of this sermon time, you will have a better understanding why Jesus wants us to stay connected to him and not allow ourselves and our children to become dis-connected.
Resurrection Lutheran Church began as a mission congregation back in the late 1980’s. God put it into the minds and hearts of folks to gather a group of believers to plant a congregation that would include a worshipping congregation and a school. The congregation grew and within 10 years acquired this property and built the first unit, which includes the sanctuary we are in now. A preschool was started and lasted for four or five years and those were good years of loving and serving children and their families. It stopped because of the extreme competition for space and for some other reasons that are important to remember: there was an increasing dis-connection between the congregation and the school. It was difficult to find members and preschool parents to serve on the school board. No joint activities of the church and the school were ever held. The pastors were not invited to conduct chapel for the school. And enrollment in the school was decreasing. So in 2002 the school stopped.
But the idea never left the hearts of a number of key people. When talk of a new building took place, these key folks spoke up and said it is part of the mission that Christ has presented to us to reach out to the community, and a school is an excellent way to reach out with the love of Jesus. And so the first million dollars or so in offerings were received and a mortgage of $2.5 mission was taken on and this building was built and it included space for the school that was re-opened several months before the dedication of the 3 story building we now have. And today we marvel at the gifts that God has brought to the church and the school in the form of wonderful school staff, an enthusiastic school board of members of the congregation and parents, a full-enrollment in our classes and the addition of the super fives this past year, Pastor Carol and I conduct the twice-weekly chapel, the congregation and children and families are doing activities together, today many of you from the school are here today at worship, and I think that the congregation is genuinely pleased to share this facility with Resurrection Lutheran School.
What’s the connection today between the lesson of Jesus and the experience of our congregation and school? I hope it is pretty apparent. We need each other. We need to work together. We give all glory and thanks to Jesus who calls us together as the Body of Christ. In this particular setting the congregation has a mission and the resources flow through the congregation. The school is a wonderful part of the mission and the true health of the mission is seen as we bear fruit in the name of Jesus. The school and our children and their families are evidence of fruit-bearing for this congregation and in a larger sense for Christ.
I would like you to make the words of Jesus very personal today. Are you and your family connected or dis-connected to the vine, that is to Jesus? It was Jesus’ idea to form the Body of Christ, to call his followers into community, to gather weekly for worship, to set aside one day per week as the Sabbath, to be in prayer and worship as a family unit often. Our school is a wonderful and vital ministry, but it can never replace being at worship regularly, whether here or in another congregation. Christian Education for our children is completed and complimented when the words and actions they hear in school and church are echoed at home with their parents. The dis-connect happens when either one of the parties does not follow through on their part.
This day my prayer is for each and every one of us, whether we have children in the Resurrection Lutheran School or not, that we will stay connected and have our lives nourished and strengthened by the power of Jesus Christ.