The Fifth Sunday of Easter – “Cantate” May 2, 2021
Text: John 15:1-8 ILCW – B 21:2259
Theme: “Remain in Me!”
Don’t you love this time of the year. I hope the cold is behind us and the snow is gone for the season. I hope I can get into the yard and garden, plant and watch things grow again. We’ve already been out to mow the grass three times. But I must tell you about an unfortunate incident I had the last time we mowed.
Last week I weed-eated for the first time. I neglected to do it the initial time we mowed. So, the grass was long in spots. Last year I planted a little seedling in the side yard near the fence and the grass was a bit tall around it. I hesitated a minute, wondering if I could weed-eat close enough around it. Yeah, I could do it. Guess what? I got too close, and the line hit the seedling, breaking off a portion of it. There it hung, not completely severed, but hanging very limp. “Maybe it will be alright and won’t die,” I told myself. Yeah, right. I looked at it yesterday. What do you think? Oh, I was so upset at myself. The rest of the seedling is ok, but not that little part. It’s dead, cut off from nourishment that would keep it alive.
Have you ever done a similar thing? Well, don’t do it with your faith. You can’t cut yourself off from Christ and His words and stay alive spiritually. You can’t even leave yourself hanging, thinking that’s enough to keep you going. This text isn’t about unbelievers; this is about disciples who know Christ. They are the branches. If such a one becomes disconnected, severed from Word and Sacrament, he withers, falls from faith, and dies. In the end, the Father cuts him off. Stay connected to Christ. “Remain in Me,” Jesus pleads.
I. “Remain in Me cleaned.”
When He spoke these words, Jesus was walking with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was betrayed. There were only 11 of them with Him. One was gone, Judas Iscariot. He already cut himself off from life with Jesus before they left the Upper Room that evening. You could say that Judas was like that branch on the seedling I hit with my weed-wacker – at best just hanging there, at worst already dead in faith. He cut himself off from Christ when he went to the chief priests and elders of the Jews to see about betraying Jesus into their hands. What a tragedy!
For three years he was at Jesus’ side. He heard Jesus preach the wonderful news of the gospel of forgiveness and salvation in Him. He watched Jesus display His divine authority over sickness by healing people. He saw the blessings that Jesus’ presence brought to all who remained near Him. But no life stirred within Judas anymore because he had become more concerned with other things, mainly money. It became more important than Christ. It interfered in his relationship and cut him off “the Vine.” Jesus is the “Vine.” Sad, very sad!
Judas was gone. So, Jesus turned His attention to the rest of the disciples, encouraging them not to do the same in the upcoming days. He reminded them, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me and I am going to remain in you.” As they listened, Jesus’ words cleaned them.
His word always cleans if one pays attention to it. That cleansing is done through the promise of forgiveness that comes through “His blood that purifies us from all sin” (1Jn.1:7).
Do you believe it? Then you have it. Judas didn’t believe it anymore because Judas didn’t listen. He was more concerned about other things. He cut himself off from the cleansing words of Christ. So, Jesus warns, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers. Such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”
That’s exactly what I did with that branch I cut off the seedling. It wasn’t vibrant; it wasn’t green; it wasn’t growing; it wasn’t clean but grey and brittle. So, I threw it into the fire pit.
Jesus is the Vine; you are the branch. Don’t let yourself be thrown into the fire pit of hell because you cut yourself off from Him. If you dwell in Jesus and His Word lives in you, you’ll have and rejoice in the cleansing He gives. That becomes all important.
II. Clean, yes, but there is other work to be done on the branches to keep them growing and productive. Trees need pruning. Jesus continued, “My Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He is going to cut off. And He prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will bear more fruit.”
Note, the Heavenly Father cuts on everything. If a branch is dead, He cuts it off. What good is a lifeless branch on a tree? It’s not going to produce anything. It takes up space and prevents other shoots from growing and producing fruit. God doesn’t want to cut branches off. He was the one who “planted” them in the tree where they could receive life from the trunk. The branch doesn’t attach itself to the tree. The tree grows the branch and is responsible for giving it life. And the gardener knows that in order to make that branch even better, stronger, producing fruit, it needs to be pruned.
When I was a child, Dad tended some apple and pear trees in the back yard. Every year he cut away at the branches, cutting off the things that drained the nourishment and strength from being concentrated in the fruit. Over time those trees looked rather gnarly and bent out of shape, but boy did they produce the fruit.
Branches always need pruning and trimming to be productive. The same is true with Christians because we allow other things clutter our lives. They drain us of the nourishment that keeps us strong as Christians. So, Jesus said, “Every branch that bears fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Every Christian life needs cutbacks. Like a wise gardener, our heavenly Father knows it is necessary to do cut-backs on the branches growing on His Vine. We are those branches, “planted” and nurtured by the miracle of His grace in Christ. And there is fruit produced. The Apostle Paul names the fruit produced by Jesus’ cleansing work as, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control” (Ga.5:22). Of us Jesus said, “Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Notice! The pruning takes place on branches that are already bearing fruit that they may bring forth more fruit.
Sometimes we wonder why it is that devout and good Christians must suffer hardships and one disappointment after another. They strive with all their hearts to follow Christ, but hardship keeps coming. At times they may even wonder if God loves them anymore! And we anguish with them because we make the mistake of equating love with physical blessing and happiness. In other words, if God really loves me, He’ll see to it that I am blessed with only happy things. As a result of such faulty thinking, we are tempted to see sufferings and disappointments as a show of His non-love towards us. But we must learn to not pity ourselves when we experience God’s pruning. God is not cutting down the tree. Rather, He is improving its branches so that they may be more…
That is not to say that pruning is not painful. It hurts. But such pruning helps us be more productive and it is better than being cut off like Judas. What would that be like – to have God abandon us to the deceits of the devil in this life, the things Satan knows take us away from Christ and His Word and lead to the horrors of hell. Suffering any cutback in life may be difficult to take, but in it God removes that which He knows hurts us. He teaches us to turn and trust in Him alone, to turn to Him in prayer, to walk in ways that are pleasing to Him and good in His sight. And so He improves our lives, making us more productive in faith.
A man visiting a flower show was amazed at the beautiful blossoms he saw. He noted the wide variety of colors and forms. But he was most impressed by their size. “How do you produce such marvelous blooms?” he asked one of the gardeners. “We do a lot of pruning,” the gardener replied. “We concentrate the strength of the plant on just one or two blossoms. If we allowed the plant to bear all the flowers it would like to bear, none of them would be worth showing. To have a prize-winning plant, we must be content with one or two blossoms instead of a dozen.”
Perhaps that is a helpful way to describe how the Father works in His role as heaven’s Gardener. To help us grow in Christ and to become more productive in faith, He prunes away at our lives. He cuts us back from things we think we need to do or have. At times, His cutbacks make us struggle greatly. Then we cry out, wondering why such cutbacks are necessary. Often the complete answer to our cries is not given this side of heaven. But Jesus’ promise stands: “The one who remains in me and I in him is the one who bears much fruit. Without me you can do nothing. My Father is glorified by this – that you continue to bear much fruit as my disciples.”
The God who in love for you gave His greatest and dearest gift, His Son, your Savior, will do whatever is necessary to improve and keep you as His dear child. The Lord only disciplines those whom He loves (Hb.12). In every cut-back you experience, see how much He loves you. You are worth so much to Him that He allows hard things to enter your life so that you may become more productive, as He blesses you with larger fruits of faith in Him. He is not cutting down the tree. He is improving the branches.
“Remain in Me,” Jesus calls, “clean, pruned, productive.” God grant it to us in our lives of faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
You can also find us on Facebook
The Fifth Sunday of Easter – “Cantate” (“Sing”) May 2, 2021
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch bears fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Jn.15:4
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things. The LORD has made His salvation known. His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him.” (Psalm 98:1-2)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Fruit-bearing Christians. Are you polycarpic? The word is of Greek origin and describes a plant that bears fruit perennially. It is derived from Polycarp, a pupil of the Apostle John – a fruit bearing disciple.
Polycarp was martyred in A.D. 166. He could have kept his life had he professed loyalty to Caesar instead of Christ. But he refused, saying that he had served the Lord 86 years and he would not deny Him in his old age. Faithfulness and love were fruits of faith that Polycarp displayed.
God’s people are called to be “polycarpic,” fruit-bearing. They recognize that God is working in and through them by their faith in the Savior. What a joy it is for Him when we bear much fruit!
To that end we pray: O God, You form the minds of Your faithful people into a single will. Make us love what You command and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world, our lives may be fruitful, our voices sing for joy, and our hearts yearn for the lasting joys of heaven; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
Today’s First Lesson: Acts 8:26-40
Philip was a fruitful evangelist. He gladly proclaimed the gospel to a foreigner, the Ethiopian official. Filled with the gospel, the official desired the blessings of Baptism as the fruits of faith blossomed in his life. Connected to Christ, he would live a full life in Him.
The Epistle Lesson: 1 John 3:18-24
Faith believes in Christ, lives in Christ, and acts in Christ as Christ commands. It bears fruit in the world because it has passed from death to life. In that life it loves believers and reaches out to help in times of need. God’s promise in Christ give confidence to live in Him.
The Gospel Lesson: John 15:1-8
Jesus compares Himself to a vine and His disciples to branches. If a branch is to remain alive and fruit-bearing, it must remain connected to the vine. Likewise, to be fruitful Christians we remain in God’s Word, holding to our faith in Christ.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says. Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.
The Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Points to Ponder Polycarp was sentenced to be burned at the stake. As he waited for the fire to be lighted, he did not lament his fate but prayed: “Lord God Almighty…may I be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, just as you, the faithful and true God, have prepared….I glorify you, through the eternal heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved child, through whom be glory to You, with Him and the Holy Spirit, now and for the ages to come. Amen.”
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #283
Order of Worship: The Common Service with Holy Communion: page 15-16
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
1 John 3:18-24
Hymn Response: #475
The Gospel Responses: pg.18
The Nicene Creed pg.18
Sermon: John 15:1-8 “Remain in Me!”
Our Response to the Word
The Offertory: page 20
The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Blesses Us
Order of Holy Communion Hymnal pages 21-23 (Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Thanksgiving Prayer & Blessing
Hymnal pages 24-25
Closing Hymn: #588 st.1,6,7
Fifth Sunday of Easter – Series B
The First Lesson: Acts 8:23-33 – Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch
26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is an isolated area.) 27So he got up and went. And there was a man, an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. 28He was on his way home, sitting in his chariot and reading the prophet Isaiah. 29The Spirit told Philip, “Go over there and stay close to that chariot.” 30Philip ran up to it and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31The man replied, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading was this: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he does not open his mouth. 33In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will talk about his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. 34The eunuch said to Philip, “I ask you, who is the prophet talking about—himself or someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak. Starting with that very passage of Scripture, he told him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were traveling along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What is there to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He ordered the chariot to stop. Then Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they stepped out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away. The eunuch did not see him anymore, but went on his way rejoicing. 40Philip, however, found himself at Azotus. And as he went from place to place, he preached the gospel in all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Epistle Lesson: 1 John 3:18-24 – Remain in God and He Remains in Us
18Dear children, let us love not only with word or with our tongue, but also in action and truth. 19This is how we know that we are of the truth and how we will set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God. 22We also receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight. 23This then is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love one another just as he commanded us. 24The one who keeps his commands remains in God and God in him. This is how we know that he remains in us: We know it from the Spirit, whom he has given to us.
Gospel Lesson: John 15:1-8 – I Am the True Vine. Remain in Me.
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he is going to cut off. And he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will bear more fruit. 3“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I am going to remain in you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Likewise, you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5“I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him is the one who bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers. Such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this: that you continue to bear much fruit and prove to be my disciples.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
with Holy Communion on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Through faith, we are connected to Christ as a branch is connected to a grape vine. The result of being connected to Jesus is that we will now bear fruit. The fruit of a Christian is a life of love. Out of thanks for God’s love, we now seek to love our fellow man by sharing God’s message of love with him. As believers we seek to show love not only in what we say, but also in what we do.
The Gospel Lesson: John 15:1-8 (answers are found on the back side)
- By being connected to Christ through faith, we are saved and produce fruit. How do we stay connected to Christ?
- Evaluate the following statement. “It is important that a Christian produce fruits of love.”
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde Johnson; Dave Ballou; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Bill Buchanan; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Jodi Milam; William Moon; Patsy Mickelson; Lance Milam; Jodi Milam; and all those affected and recovering from the virus and other illnesses.
Copies of the Daily Devotions written by pastor this past week on Psalm 67 will be found in the narthex.
Forward in Christ’s next edition for May has arrived. There are copies for family and friends on the credenza in the narthex. Also, the next installment of Meditations daily devotions, beginning the end of the May, will be found there.
Phase Yellow of Restrictions Last week the Springfield/Greene County Health Department entered its yellow phase with covid restrictions. Churches and gatherings under 500 people may resume activities safely. However, masks are still to be worn. Our understanding about social distancing is that it is encouraged but not mandated. We still should follow cautious procedures at this time, but gatherings are not under the strict restrictions as they were previously. You will find masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. For today we continue to not pass the offering plate during the service. You will find it at the door upon leaving the sanctuary. That may change in the weeks ahead as we return to normal worship procedures. If you have any questions or thoughts on all of this, please see Pastor.
May 7 & 8 – The Women of Peace will sponsor a garage sale in Marshfield in support of missions
June 6-8 – Family Campout for area WELS and ELS congregations at Heit’s Point – see insert for more information
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 24; Quarterly Meetings; Offering: $1,335; Midweek Bible Class: 6.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Easter 6: Acts 11:19-26; 1 John 4:1-11; John 15:9-17 (Series B)
Answers to Today’s 1st Lesson Brief Study:
- If faith binds us to Christ, then the Means of Grace (the Gospel in Word and Sacraments) are what keep us connected to Him. Through the Means of Grace, we are united with Christ and are able to produce fruit. If we do not make frequent use of the Means of Grace, we become weak, do not produce much fruit, and are in danger of separating ourselves from Christ.
- We receive heaven as a gift of God’s grace through faith. Fruits of love are not necessary for salvation. However, faith will always produce fruit. The stronger the faith the more fruit it produces. God wants us to produce many fruits of love and commands us to do so. So even though fruits of love are not necessary for salvation, they are still very important.
This week I am praying for……
Family Campout 2021
When: Sunday June 6th 4pm to Tuesday June 8th 7pm
Where: Heit’s Point Lutheran Ministries, Paul Spitz Center @ Lincoln, MO
Who: Families with all ages
Activities: Camp fires, Devotions, Swimming in lake or indoor pool,
Bible studies, Hiking trails, Canoeing
Cost: $70 per night per room,
1 family per room (a motel type room, each room has its own bathroom with tub/shower.)
All Meals will be provided.
No tents needed. We will be sleeping in beds. (bedding is provided)
Things to bring:
Personal care items
Bug spray, Sunscreen
Sunday afternoon, anytime after 3, meet at Heit’s Point Spitz Center for set up, supper and devotion.
Monday: devotion, breakfast, Bible Study, games, lunch, Bible Study, activity, supper and campfire evening.
Tuesday: devotion, breakfast, Bible Study, , supper, and closing devotion.
Contact: Pastor Micah Ernst 573-356-5560