Hand me a shovel,
I’ve got to find the source of this vine.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit”
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? There are many versions of this question that we could propose, was it the tree or the seed, the ocean or the rain?
As we work through our week we are confronted with this question more often than we think. Consider the fact that we live in community, in a family, in a neighborhood, in an apartment building. If we work we face the community of our workplace. Whether we belong to a club, go out to a movie, go shopping, or prepare to vote later this year we are constantly confronted by differing versions of community.
Now consider where we are this morning, in church. Certainly the family of faith is a community, and our unity with God and each other is a shadow of the perfect community for which we are all destined. But is this community of faith somehow estranged from the rest of our communities? Is it an endpoint?
We need to ask ourselves that all-important question, what came first, all these other communities or the community of God? When we come to church do we extract ourselves – is church something we do at the “end” of the week, or do we see our church community as our place of beginnings?
Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus. This meeting brought him into the community of faith. It was his beginning, a beginning that would change the world; the character of the Church from one limited the near east and the Jewish people, to full inclusiveness for all.
We need to pick up our shovels and dig into what is for us the foundation of everything we do. In digging in do we see the Church, our baptism, our weekly worship, as our beginning, our starting point? Is this where we start or where we end?
Jesus tells us that we are intimately connected to Him, as much as branches are connected to the vine. As long as we stay connected to the source of our strength and direction, as long as we know our starting point, we will have joy. We will be most productive by defining everything from our attachment to the vine. If we do we will “bear much fruit and become His disciples.”
St. Paul told the Ephesians that the secret to loving is living loved. “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” Just as a tree draws nutrients from the soil, we draw nourishment from our starting point – God and His community, all joined in one source, one vine.