Sunday, May 13 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
Texts: John 15:9-17; 1 John 5:1-6; Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98
There are different ways to garden. One is to do what I call “messy” gardening. There’s probably a term for it, something like natural gardening, but regardless what it’s called, the concept is to plant seeds in random places among all kinds of plant life, leave it well enough alone, and see what happens. Occasionally, by the grace of God, there are lush and tasty results.
Another way to garden is to cultivate, plant, tend, and harvest with great care, encouraging the plants to grow by providing loving attention to their needs and protection from things like bugs, disease, malnutrition, and drought that threaten their well being. Occasionally, but the grace of God, there are lush and tasty results.
Today’s texts demonstrate both forms of gardening, only the harvest is not edible fruits and vegetables, but rather followers of Jesus who have been infused with the Holy Spirit.
John’s text seems to be in favor of precise gardening. “Do what I command . . . you have been appointed to go and bear fruit.” Jesus is describing an orderliness about faith and obedience which ultimately leads to the bearing of fruit, the making of additional disciples. Through Jesus we have learned about God and God’s love, and now it’s up to us to love the world intentionally and unequivocally.
In Acts, there’s a bit more of a mess. Peter is enthusiastically exhorting Jesus’ witnesses to trust what they have seen and to commit their lives to preaching and testifying to those realities. You might say that he’s preaching to the choir. In the midst of his exhortation, the Holy Spirit is poured out on both the Jews and the Gentiles, astonishing those who accompanied Peter and convicting new believers who quickly went from skeptical bystanders to baptized followers.
God’s love works this way; unpredictably yet consistently. We share God’s love freely and passionately when we can anticipate its life-giving impact and when we have no idea what might result from an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Occasionally, by the grace of God, there are lush and tasty results.
Call to worship: Psalm 98 (can be spoken antiphonally between leader and congregation or between left and right sides of the congregation)
God of creation, you make gardens grow whether we tend them well or not.
Sometimes you just need us to scatter the seed of a good word and your Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Sometimes you need us to tend a little longer, love a little stronger, and follow a little closer so that your word will prosper.
Help us to love each other and the world around us, bearing lasting fruit.
This we ask of the Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Anthem: This Is My Commandment by Larry Shackley (www.lorenz.com)
Heart with loving heart united
My Jesus, I love thee
Oh, let the Son of God enfold you (Spirit Song)
Illustration: Check out this website of inspiring stories about love, hope, faith and courage: http://www.gagirl.com/stories/index.html