Jesus the vine, we the branches

I am the vine

Scripture reference: John 15:5

David is fifteen years old. He lives with his grandpa in a small house with a big garden. David’s Grandpa Joe is a short little man with very thick glasses and very, very wrinkled hands. Grandpa Joe is a gardener, and what he likes best in his whole garden are his grapevines.

David thinks his grandpa is the best vinekeeper on the block. All during the growing season, Grandpa Joe gets up early, tugs on his big black rubber boots and, rain or shine, hot or cold, pushes open the old wire gate that leads into the garden.

Grandpa Joe shuffles slowly between the growing vines, and now and then reaches up to the branches twisting around the wooden trellis. He turns over a leaf or two with his big, gentle hands. He peers at them closely through his thick glasses. Are the leaves green and shiny and healthy? Or are insects chewing holes in the leaves? And are there enough blossoms? He looks for branches that have diseases – maybe bugs or fuzzy fungus – and if they are sick or rotting, he snips the sick and rotting branches off the big stem and tosses them into the fire pit at the far corner of the garden.

Days of sunshine and days of rain … In Grandpa Joe’s garden, the blossoms fall off and small grapes appear. There they hang on the branches, just growing, while the vine brings them food and water up from the soil. Slowly, slowly, they grow — round and plump and ripe.

Days of sunshine and days of rain … Sometimes during a big storm, a blast of wind tears a branch away from the vine. The food can no longer travel to the leaves and grapes on the broken branch. The green, shiny leaves become dry and crunchy; the growing grapes dry up and fall off, and even the birds don’t want to taste them. These too, Grandpa Joe tosses into the fire pit. At the end of the summer, Grandpa Joe makes a big fire and burns all the dead and useless vines and branches.

But on the big vine, on the healthy branches, the clusters of grapes keep on growing: juicy and sweet, tasty and good. Finally, it is time: Grandpa Joe picks the grapes and fills the baskets – one, two, three… At the end of the day, he sits in the garden with his grandson David and smiles. Grandpa Joe is happy with the harvest.

Jesus knows all about vines and grapes like Grandpa Joe’s. His garden is the whole world, and Jesus is the vine. “Stay by me,” he says, “and you will grow strong and healthy just like the green shiny leaves that stayed on Grandpa Joe’s vine. Stay by me and I will give you all the food you need to be a child of God.” And before you know it, in sunshine or rain, good times or bad, your friends will know you love Jesus, and every little thing you do for Jesus will make Him happy..

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Who else but God?

Pentecost

Scripture reference: Acts 2:14-41

I’m going to ask you a riddle. There’s only one right answer.

It’s quite a long riddle; you will need to listen very carefully….

Here it is!

(Using your Bible, read aloud from Proverbs 30:4) Who has gone up into heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his coat? Who has made all the corners of the earth? What is his name and the name of his son? Now … tell me if you know.  (the children will want to answer: guide them and don’t discourage any answers they might attempt)

GOD – the Father of Jesus. That’s the answer – one thousand years before Jesus was born, wise men asked the same riddle and gave the same answer.

WHO ELSE BUT GOD CAN MAKE THE WIND LISTEN?

After the flood, when Noah and all the creatures with him were perched on the side of the mountain in the ark, God sent a strong wind. It blew and blew over the earth and pushed the waters away from the mountain and dried up the land.

When God wanted the children of Israel to leave the land of Egypt the stubborn king kept saying NO, NO, I will not let the people go! God sent the blustery east wind. It flew across the land all day and all night and brought grasshoppers that gobbled up every single green plant in the land of the stubborn king.

When the people of Israel came to the Red Sea, they looked in front of them and saw nothing but water. They looked behind them and saw King Pharaoh’s soldiers marching closer and closer. God said to Moses: Stretch your hand out over the sea, and he sent a mighty wind that pushed the water away so the people could walk safely to the other side.

When Elijah, tired prophet Elijah, hid away from God, God found him in the cave on the mountain. He sent a fierce, powerful wind that tore the mountain apart, and scattered the rocks. Then he comforted Elijah in a quiet, gentle whisper.

God holds the wind in the hollow of his hand.

After the disciples saw Jesus taken up into heaven, they walked back from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, praising God. And they prayed and waited for the gift Jesus had promised them.

It was Pentecost. Once again God had sent a wind from heaven, mighty and wonderful, and the sound of it filled the whole house where they were. And with the wind came fire that separated into flames and came to rest on each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced at God’s wonders.

And Peter stood up and said: “This is the gift Jesus promised us before he was taken up into heaven – Holy Spirit is for you and your children, and for all who believe in Him. They will be saved.”

Wind and fire – this is the Spirit Wind, held in the hollow of God’s hand.