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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mayflower Congregational Sunday Service: Abiding in the True Vine

Scripture Lesson: John 15: 1-9 (I am the vine. You are the branches.)

Hymns: "Tell Out, My Soul", "God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale"

Choir Anthem: "Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree"
The tree of life my soul hath seen, Laden with fruit, and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be Compared with Christ the apple tree.

The Prayer of Confession:
Lord of Life, you are the way of love and peace. We confess that we have not loved each other as You have commanded. Instead of being your people of peace and spreading hope, we have all too often been an anxious people, spreading distrust, worry and fear. By failing to love each other, we have failed to see You at work in our lives. Help us extend to others the same grace and compassion that we need ourselves. In the name of Jesus, the teacher from Nazareth, we pray. Amen.

Sermon Notes:

  • We are all in need of pruning
  • Jesus forces us to practice a radical hospitality and live sacrificially.
  • We are to think of ourselves as a vine, absolutely intertwined with each other.
(Personal Note: This reminds me of the John Donne poem "No Man is an Island". What ever enhances you enhances me. Whatever diminishes you diminishes me. My interpretation.)

  • We need a community to lean on.
  • The word "abide" in the scripture lesson is best understood as "endure, continue, remain, persist."
  • Jesus wants us to persist.. We must persist to to model Jesus--not an easy task.
  • Though this text has often been taken as a reason to exclude (I am part of the true vine, but you are not.), it is really a text designed to include.
  • It is a text designed to increase our spirituality rather than our religion.
  • "Religion is for people afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there."

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