May 4, 2012

Spiritual Life Is Like Being Part of A Vine

(Homily notes for Easter 5, 2012, by Rev. John Gishler)
(Readings: Acts8.26-40; 1 John 4.7-21; John 15.1-8)
If Jesus is like a vine, our spiritual life begins when we make a serious decision to be a Christian and love and depend on Him. The point of the Readings for today is that we grow spiritually as we remain connected by our love to the vine called Jesus. There is also a warning that if we fail to produce fruit (love) – to share the Good News of forgiveness and eternal spiritual life, we can cut ourselves off from Jesus, like a branch from a vine, and loose our eternal spiritual life of love.

1. Baptism, Eucharist and prayer connect us to Jesus
·        In our Baptism we enter a covenant love relationship
·        More serious than a legal agreement – with God
·        Renounce evil and put our trust in Jesus to save us
·        Saves us from the natural consequence of sin
·        Sin normally makes us unholy, unable to be with God
·        Depend on Jesus sacrificial death for our forgiveness
·        In Baptism we pledge our loyalty and our love to God
·        Participation in the Eucharist re-connects us
·        Worship and daily prayer life strengthens us
·        Our love of God grows and is the essential connection
·        A real connection – like the branches or juice in a vine
·        Live “in Christ” and become ‘clean’, whole / holy
·        Holy Spirit can come an live in us
·        When we die we already have eternal spiritual life

2.    Our spiritual life grows as we remain connected
·        Phillip is an example of this spiritual life
·        Movements are guided by the Holy Spirit
·        Can assume he has tremendous faith in Jesus
·        Can assume he is in constant payer
·        His love of Jesus binds him to Jesus
·        His experiences of the Holy Spirit increase faith
·        The Ethiopian was searching for God
·        Trying to connect through Bible reading
·        Needed a guide – God provided a guide
·        Bible reading is critical to remaining connected

3.   Our spiritual life grows as we bear fruit
·        Bearing fruit is a condition of connection
·        Warning that unfruitful branches are cut off
·        Phillip is a fruitful branch – sharing the GN
·        Cursillo Weekend was fruitful – over 30 men spent 3 days in prayer, teaching and healing
·        I could not have given 5 talks and led worship services without the energy of the Holy Spirit
·        I learned that I could depend on the Holy Spirit

Spiritual life is like being part of a vine:  

    You have to stay connected      
    You have to bear fruit   
    Suffering ‘prunes’ and strengthen us spiritually to produce better fruit

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