Great Love through the Vine

Fa'amanu Akeripa
Sun 02 May

It’s funny how one week away, time spent with the kids can accumulate so much in the last week of the month. I struggled this week to find a way to share a sermon this morning from this week’s lectionary and the experiences I have had during the week to steer us in a direction around a theme on love.

I say this and at the same time, I believe that as life learners, every day presents itself with a new task or a new experience that improves our lives. This can be in the form of a life changing moment or a day where we experience sorrow and new emotions that enrich and make us better people. You see, the reading in John talks about our relationship to God through his own relationship with Christ, this intertwining in and outgrowth type relationship, where you are (good one moment and then not so good the next), meeting new people and building new relationships. All under the encompassing theme of love.

In saying this I came across Glynn’s blessing at his daughter’s wedding, and I hope he doesn’t mind me using his love blessing, but I thought this depicted a certain kind of love, maybe one involving a Father and child, in reading it I hope to make connections to the passage read today, these are his words not mine.

[1]Blessed is the gifting of love

that believes in you,

that finds joy in the wee,

finds strengths in the common,

and dreams arising in the wings.

Blessed is the gifting of love

that believes in you,

which hears the voices minor,

encourages the trust major,

and sings the heart to soar.

Blessed is the gifting of love

that believes in you,

is gentle sloping always,

is hopeful facing always,

and is steadfastly stubborn (always).

Blessed is the gifting of love,

that believes in you,

is weak as well as strong,

is balm to calm, soothe,

the soul’s homecoming.

Blessed is the gifting of your love

it believes in you:

may you know it’s courage,

may you know it’s wisdom,

and may you know it’s beauty.

So, may the dawn chorus always sing for you,

the night melodies rest and regenerate you,

the trees wave at and encourage you,

the wind dance around and uplift you,

the playful sea surround and delight you;

and may you always be known by Arohanui,

encompassing, holding, and emboldening you,

now and forever.

I can’t speak to the finer details of how Glynn positioned each part of his blessing, although what I can say is that it speaks to the heart of the listener/reader and that it incorporates the gift of love and the heart to impart love.

I envision this same love being portrayed in John 15 between another Parent and child relationship. I want to outline three aspects of love that I hope to impart on you this morning.

Firstly: the ability to Filter and clean out like the love of the vine grower to clear the branches[2] and filter out the bad and keep the good. Watering and nurturing the plant so that it produces fruit, one of the great things about the pillars day was working alongside the kids clearing the ivy along the brick-wall. The kids enjoyed getting stuck in and by the end of it, we noticed a brick wall behind all the tangled up ivy. I thought to myself, wow there was a wall behind all that ivy.

Sometimes our view is skewed that we tend to miss what’s beneath because we have got so used to looking at the same thing. I wonder, if the first four stanza of Glynn’s gifting of love meant just this for the nuptials, the learning more of each other and where love will be tested at times in a new relationship. As I read the blessing I certainly related to some of those hard to express love qualities but in the same way developing my own understanding of love.   

We clean out so that we grow in a healthy, productive community. We clean out because we reposition ourselves so that the view becomes more relevant. We clean out because we want to take out the bad and develop more of the good in our community. I’m sure the goals we set out 5years ago are not the same goals we are dreaming of today. We clean out in order for it to be accepting of others and their beliefs and cultures. I remember hearing, Phillip[3] probably took more out of his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch than the eunuch did of his experience.

I asked myself what did this mean exactly? It wasn’t until I read the passage that it was more the experience rather than the ministry narrative that is the focus to this statement. We grow in our relationship with Christ, the eyes and ears of our heart directs the way we live and relate to one another. I’m guessing that during covid lives were also filtered, changed, improved and taken away. Like the vine grower we make sure that we prune the edges so that fruits are produced. Good qualities and positive characteristics are inherited on those we come in contact with. And as we filter and clean out we realign ourselves to the true vine, which is Christ.

My second murmur would be that we grow and multiply. One of the great things about building lasting friends and relationships is that we make a strong effort to get the best out of each other. We may not agree on a few things but through love we agree to disagree. I still love you and will continue to look out for you, because I see good in you and I want you to succeed too. If no-one tells you, I will. That you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends[4].

One of the most difficult aspects of love is when you are being challenged by those who love you dearly, and you struggle to recognise it. As tough as it is, it’s the most memorable and lasting thing I would take away from any friendship. I suspect this maybe what is meant in the fourth stanza of the blessing - courage, wisdom and beauty. I know that it takes a lot of courage to challenge and be challenged. Wisdom comes when you know whether or not to challenge and beauty embraces love when both courage and wisdom is understood. Love isn’t easy and for a long time you have to accept change and what this means, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Being a part of Gods wider realm means we have a connection to Christ and Christ is love.

We grow and we learn, Our characters/behaviours are renewed and we make friends and lasting relationships, this new and improved love imparts to those around us thus multiplying, bearing fruit. I take it that this must be what is meant by the true vine-grower, I appoint you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last[5], so that you will be granted whatever you ask for in Christs name. We are many branches and we intertwine differently but connect through our love of Christ to God.

Thirdly, We are all chosen[6] sometimes I wonder is there even a reason to separate a selected few, we are all given the choice to love one another and that freedom is given to us when we walk through those doors. In saying this as we choose to be part of this community we represent our God everywhere we go, we enjoy each other’s company and impart Gods peace to one another. This is the understanding that Christ lives in us and we share that to our community and loved ones.

I want to leave this sermon and aroha as a father, my hope is that my children see love, it may be tough, direct, emotional, broken, learned, back-seated, corrected, stubborn, embarrassed, raw, unintentional, smothered and poor. I hope that it imparts on them courage, strength, insight, humility, caring, learned, approachable, correctness, unwavering, stability, wisdom and beauty. I’d gather that these were the intentions of John 15 of the vine-grower imparting his love to the world. May we see the beauty in the new world and continue to share the love as he has shared Christ. Amen.

 

[1] Glynn Cardy, Blessing written for his Daughter’s wedding, April 14th, 2021

[2] John 15: 3-4

[3] Acts 8: 26-40

[4] John 15: 12-13.

[5] John 15: 16.

[6] John 15: 16-17.

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