Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
– John 15:5
I read a story about a flood in Nebraska in 1988. As the flooding grew worse, a man realized that the water was in his barn 29 inches because the creek was rising, and he needed to move the entire 17,000 pound barn to a new foundation about 150 feet away. His son built a steel grid that was nailed, welded, and bolted to the inside and outside of the barn. Hundreds of handles were attached.
After one practice lift, 344 volunteers slowly picked up the barn and carried it up a small hill. Each person supported less than fifty pounds. In just three minutes, the barn was on its new foundation.
For me, that’s a picture of the church. Connected to one another, caring for one another, supporting one another, and encouraging one another. The church is called to be a source of help and support and love, but this only happens as we stay connected – as we abide in Christ.
The last several months have been challenging for our nation, for our world, and for the church as we have confronted the Covid-19 pandemic together. But these days have also been a significant reminder of what the church truly is. The church is community, not an institution. The church is people, not merely a building. We need one another – staying connected and caring, supporting, and encouraging one another. If nothing else, we have learned how important it is to maintain our community, even as we have been worshipping and “gathering” from home.
As we return to worship in our sanctuary, we are grateful for our the cooperation our community has shown as we gather together in a safe, responsible manner. Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. When gathering, wear a mask and maintain a safe distance from others. Remember that we continue to livestream our worship services every Sunday morning. We’re all doing the best we can to keep everyone healthy and as safe as possible.
“Abide in me,” Jesus says. Jesus is urging his followers to remain in him and remain with him, even as he is about to leave them, first at the cross and then after the resurrection. Jesus wants them to be prepared, to remain in fellowship and in community with each other, and to abide in his teaching and example. When we forget our source of strength, our source of life, when we are cut off from the source, we start to die as a community.
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. We are to stay connected to Christ, and we are to stay connected to Christ together. May God continue to bless us as a community as we serve our Lord together.