Some biblical themes are so repetitious that when I see them, I think of the old saying by Yogi Berra, “It’ like déjà vu all over again.” That describes the assigned lessons this week from I John 4:7-21 and John 15:1-8.
I John 4 is an often repeated biblical theme of God loves us, and we ought to love one another. John 15 is the familiar theme of the importance of staying connected with God. In It, Jesus tells a story of a vine, growing in a vineyard. This story has created great comfort for many, while also creating profound pain and suffering for others. I think it’s because too often preachers failed to teach the truth Jesus is conveying and have instead concentrated on verses that speak of cutting off branches that don’t produce fruit; throwing away and/or burning such branches. It’s as though these preachers and their followers think God is asking for their help in this endeavor.
No wonder it distorts people’s concept of God and hides the great truth Jesus seeks to convey in this story of the vineyard and the vine. That truth is this: when Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and God is the gardener. … I am the vine, you are the branches.” It is a truth of everyone being connected and together rather than of cutting off and separating. A truth of when all the parts of the vineyard are all connected; good fruit is produced. All the different parts of the vineyard; the soil, the roots, the vines, and leaves … as different as they are to look at, they each have their value in producing good fruit. If there are unfruitful branches, it is not our problem or our focus; our only purpose is to work together to produce the fruit the vineyard owner (God) planted us here to produce.
This theme along with the theme from I John 4 are themes that make the message of these scriptures seem like “Déjà vu – all over again.”
Join us for worship this Sunday at Covenant, I will be preaching a sermon called “Déjà Vu – All Over Again” based on these two passages.