Thursday, December 23, 2010

Knowing God - Isaiah 5:1

Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
"My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill."
Isaiah 5:1
The first time that love is mentioned by the prophets comes to us as a love-song. God has established a kingdom on this violent planet. He calls it his vineyard, and with his love and nurturing, he rightly anticipates a yield of savory fruit. "So why," cries the master gardener, "why did it yield wild grapes?"
I'll bet that just about all of us can confess a few wild oats that were sown and a few wild grapes that have been harvested. Most of the world laughs at sin. But in doing so we mock the cross -- which is the one and only remedy for sin.
Jesus invites us to think of the cross as the solid healthy stem that is called the vine. In John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit."
What is abiding in Christ? Jesus says, "10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love."
But what happens if we don't abide in Christ? Jesus says, "6 whoever does not abide in me [will be] like a branch [that] withers. [It will be] thrown away." In our house and as parents, we call that a consequence. Isaiah 5 lists other consequences. Indeed, the prophet warns us that wild oats and wild grapes will cause God to "remove [the] hedge" -- his hedge of protection. With a "br[oken] down ... wall" and "no[] ... prun[ing]" and "no rain," future success will be even harder.
Winter is generally the season in which we think about grapes, vines, and gardening the least. And yet winter is the season in which the Christ child comes to us new again. He comes not as a threatening king with pruning shears but as an a humble infant that invites us to hold him in our hearts.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who now has an excuse 
to eat a lot of fruitcake
(if that doesn't remind me 
to bear much fruit
maybe having to shed the pounds
of fruit cake will remind me
all next year)
Winter is a season of death. loneliness. 'Abiding in Christ' is not always possible. Right now - despite obeying his commands, God has removed his hand. Vineyards on a fertile hill? The crop can still die just before harvest.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. Winter is not a season of death. It is a season of putting down roots.

The reason fall is the best time to plant practically anything that's expected to last more than one season (trees, perennials, grass, bushes, etc.) is that they need the winter to establish good roots before they begin to grow in the spring. When pants are planted in the spring, the part of the plant that is above ground tends to outgrow the part below ground. You have to baby them all summer long to keep them from getting transplant shock and dying. But if you plant in the fall, the part of the plant above ground stays dormant throughout the winter while root system grows. Then the plant can grow even more in the spring and withstand a dry spell or a harsh winter much more easily.

No, winter is definitely not a season of death. It is a season of vigorous growth--we just can't see it from where we stand. And it's just like us to think that just because we don't see something, it's not there. But it is.

You say that God has removed his hand. How do you know this to be true? What is it you expect to receive from His hand?

Dec 23, 2010, 3:13:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Dear Chris

53 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (the taken away branch);

54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.


57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me." (John 6: 53 - 57)

Dec 27, 2010, 9:09:00 AM  
Blogger Chris K said...

Michael - there have been many times during this journey over the past several months that I have refused to take communion. I have been to angry or felt too unworthy or something else to accept this gift from him.
So - by refusing, are we saying that Christ does not abide in us?

Dec 28, 2010, 12:31:00 AM  

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