The Rector’s Diary
+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus said “I am the Vine, my Father is the vine grower.” And again he said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.”
Like last week, when Jesus taught us the Good News using the images of the Good Shepherd and his Sheep, we again find our Lord using analogy and metaphor to describe his relationship to us his followers. And again, he uses an image that the everyday folk of Palestine could understand.
In his day, Jesus could take for granted that his listeners knew about vines and vineyards. In our day, though, there are a few things which it might be helpful to point out.
- The branches receive their nourishment from the vine.
Jesus tells us that we need to be and remain connected to him in order to have life. Getting connected to Jesus and staying connected to him is perhaps the most important thing we can go in our lives. Through him we receive grace upon grace to carry us through this life and to bring us to the salvation which he offers us. We can never underestimate the love and the power that God wants to pour into us in our times of trouble. His grace is sufficient to overcome all the negative powers of fear and anxiety and hurt, pain and suffering that come against us to snatch us away. Over and over again, indeed, we read in scripture, that God allows these times of trouble, not creates them but allows them, to test and to purify our faith in him. But the only way we can tap into that grace is by remaining connected to Jesus the vine, through whom we receive that Grace infused to us by the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.
And how do we get connected? Well, first off, through baptism. In our first lesson, we read of St. Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. In this little vignette, Philip approaches the chariot of the Eunuch who is reading through the Scriptures. And he asks Philip about the meaning of the passage he is reading – the Fourth Suffering Servant Song in Isaiah 53. Philip in answer to the eunuch inquisitive spirit, gives him the Good News of Salvation in Christ. And when Philip is done the eunuch asks to be baptized. He asks to be made part of the vine of Christ and an inheritor of the Kingdom of God. And so Philip baptizes him – making him with you and me a child of the Kingdom of God.
And so in the first place, our baptism in Christ connects us to the vine. But how do we remain in the vine?
First, we must have a desire to remain connected. Our hearts, inspired by the Holy Spirit, must want to be connected to Christ.
Secondly, the Church offers the space to worship God in spirit and truth through the hearing of his Word read and proclaimed and the receiving of the sacraments– outward and visible signs of God’s promise of Grace – and sure and certain means by which he gives us that grace into our hearts.
But we must approach and receive these sacraments rightly – we must receive them with hearts that seek the grace of God, so that we may bear fruit and give glory to him.
- The Second thing we need to remember about vines and branches is that the branches are only good to the gardener is they bear fruit.
So, if we receive these gifts from God’s altar any other reason than bearing fruit for the Kingdom so that we may give glory to God and remain connected to him, then in a real sense we fail to take heed to Saint Paul’s warning to discern the Body before we receive the Blessed Sacrament.
God’s purpose for us is that we bear fruit – and if I may expand a little on Jesus’ metaphor, the bread which we break and the cup which we share here today, are spiritual means keeping us connected to the vine and the food which nourishes us to produce good fruit.
But there is another process in the bearing of fruit- and that process happens in our day to day lives as we go out from this place fed and nourished by God’s Word and Sacraments. And that process is the process of pruning the branches. That process happens to us out in the world. It is the process of God removing from us all that is not of him: Pride, arrogance, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, malice. All those negative parts of our lives, those negative attitudes and behaviors which are not the way which God wishes us to live our lives.
Sometimes that process of pruning can hurt a little. As our Lord told Saint Paul when he began pruning him on the road to Damascus: it hurts to kick against the Goads.
Each of us can probably think of times in our lives when we were straying from God’s will and God trimmed us back a bit. Maybe it was a taste of humble pie. Maybe it was an even more emotionally tumultuous event. But I’m sure if we look back on some of those events, maybe not all, but at least some, in hindsight we can see how God was pruning away some of the branches so that the Good Fruit bearing parts of our lives could grow and flourish.
Jesus said- Those who abide in me bear much fruit. In his letter to the Galatians – Paul tells us what those fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
May we turn our hearts to him in worship today, seeking to be grafted in and remain branches of the vine, producing the fruits of the Kingdom of God. Amen.
- Got the hymns to John B. for Sunday.
- Worked on the CS Lewis class for tonight. Considering switching to a book of the Bible for Lent.
- Mass at noon
- Class tonight
- Meeting with Kerry B. (and his finance?) at 8 p.m. tonight to discuss wedding.
Mass this morning at 7 a.m. with 5 in attendance and receiving communion.
- Snow overnight last night, only about an inch or three.
- Worked this morning and finished the leaflets for Sunday. Waiting on organ music now before printing.
- Updated website. Typed up Ash Wednesday sermon for website publication.
- Evening Prayer and Benediction tonight at 6:15
- Mass with Imposition of Ashes @ 7 a.m. (15 in attendance)
- Brought ashes to our shut-ins throughout the day. Made to:
- Doris Countrman
- Mildred McKee
- Jane LeCount
- Pat Olden
- Ruth Baker
- Marie Fisher
- Gertrude Griffin
- Caroline Langworthy
- Helped on scene of an ambulance call for about 1/2 hour
- Mass with Imposition of Ashes @ 5:00 p.m. at Christ Church Pottersville (10 in attendance)
- Sung Mass with Imposition of Ashes @ 7 p.m. at HCW. (20 in attendance)
- Bed at 9:30, quite tired.
- Got a later start than usual this morning. No matter. MP in the office.
- Work on Sermon
- Went to a help on the scene with the ambulance for a man fallen off the roof.
- Saw one of Ruth B.’s aides at Stewarts when i went for coffee. She’s still not feeling 100%. Said she would probably cancel today. I told her to tell R that I’ll be over at noon on Ash Wednesday.
- Back here, working on Sermon and leaflets.
- Leaflets for Sunday all set for printing except waiting on Organ music.
- Printing the leaflets for the Funeral of Sarah Combs tomorrow at 10 a.m.
- Stopped by the Funeral Home and talked with John & Dave. All set for tomorrow. They’re going to put out the Funeral Markers on the curb tonight so we have space in the morning.
- Have to call Audrey W. to schedule a visit today.
- Today’s deanery was cancelled. Still no mass today – have plans to make a few visits today to Linda M. and Marie Fisher.
- Had good visits with both Linda and Marie. Marie was alert, awake, and in good spirits. Still unsure of Linda’s prognosis. Will visit her again next Tuesday. Added Marie to the long list of Shut-ins to visit on Ash Wednesday.
- CS Lewis class tonight – worked on the lectures for class this morning and just finished them up. For Book 4 chs. 2 & 3. We’ll see if we make it through all of that!
- Mike Dalaba was here working on the roof this morning. didn’t get to chat with him before he left. Will find out what’s going on.
- We’ll need to be looking into insulating the Chapel Roof in the near future (after winter, though). The water/ice build up is coming from snow melting off that roof. For the rest of the winter we’ll just have to keep that roof clear of snow.
- Funeral for Sarah Combs on Thursday at 10 a.m. Arrangements are all set.
- Ordered Flowers from Church for the Altar.
- Going to try to get my sermon together today for Sunday. In addition to our regular activities, its ‘Scout Sunday’ so we’ll have the scouts and scouters from Troop 100 doing the readings and leading the prayers of the people.
- Mass this morning at 7 a.m. for the Martyrs of Japan.
- Out for a coffee and donut. On way back saw there was mail in the box – thought i got yesterday’s mail – my passport arrived! Excited to be all ready (tickets, passport) to go to Northern Ireland in March!
- Worked this morning to finish up the mailing for the newsletter. Have been going through the mailing list and data base to try and match up everything and get the mailing list to be more complete. Added several of our new folks.
- Made visits/PHC/Pastoral Calls this afternoon to: Gertrude Griffin, Linda Moulton, and Caroline Langworthy.
- Had inductions for the Society of Mary last evening. Inducted 5 members. Plans to form a formalized chapter are underway. Our first Mass together will be on March 25 for the Annuciation.
- Had to re-send the newsletter to the printer in PDF form this morning. They didn’t have the formatting settings right on the Pub. file i sent last week and only discovered that when I went down to pick them up yesterday afternoon. They hope to have the new printings done by noon today.
- Working on Calendar insert for newsletter. Found out they should be here early this afternoon.
- Both Shut-ins cancelled today. Will call Ruth B next Wednesday. Will call Audrey W. tomorrow to check calendar. Her Neice, June M. had bypass surgery this week. Seems to have gone well but she is waiting a call. Prayers requested for June’s recovery.
- Re-Worked the Leaflets this morning for Scout Sunday. We’ll have scouts and scouters leading the readings and prayers of the people.
- Attempting to find supply priest for March 15 when I’m away in Northern Ireland.
- Ordered candles for shrine and altar. We were down to the last two.
- Evening Prayer and Mass – Kept Cornelius the Centurion today- First gentile (i.e. Not Jewish) convert to the faith.
- Got the leaflets folded, labeled and sealed ready to be sent out tomorrow!
- Big Snow yesterday. Very Cold this morning.
- Went out to shovel at 8 a.m. and found Bill B. already doing it. It’s great to see people caring for their parish family! Helped him finish up and then met with and talked for about an hour.
- Working on the leaflets this morning. We’re at the point where we have a 3 year cycle saved on the computer. I have to make changes and adjustments, though, and am considering whether to revamp the old ones or just start fresh and make new ones.
- Mass at Noon today. Will keep St. Blaise and bless throats at the end of Mass.
- Plan to do study work for the Sermon in the afternoon and then CS Lewis class this evening.