Order, Words, & Voices

Order

Sunday, July 11, 2021 Order

#1 ONE Video #1 (5:13)

  • Call to Worship

          In the Garden (Matthew Foust)
Live/OnLine

  • Prayer/Speaker Introduction        Petty
  • Music                     Kristen M 

    Holy Holy Holy            John Bacchus Dykes | Reginald Heber
    Fairest Lord Jesus            Fallersleben | Joseph August Seiss
    For the Beauty of the Earth    Conrad Kocher | Folliott Sandford Pierpoint

  • That Story = My Story            Kristen J, Dave, Nikki 
  • Message    ‘Dependence Day’          Kristen M 

#2 TWO Video (3:40)

  • Song – Abide In Me (Andrew Marcus)

         Community – Next Sunday – Uncompromising Appeasement
Live

  • Benediction   Kristen J, Dave, Nikki 
  • Sharing the Peace           Petty

# 3 Three Audio (3:17)
      Song – Thankful (Verses)

Voices & Words

Call To Worship

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:11-12

So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.
Joshua 24:13-14a

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
Isaiah 61:11

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.”
Jeremiah 29:12

“In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Zechariah 3:10

 “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Matthew 13:31

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
John 15:1

Prayer
God,
Today we gather as Your descendant, and as your Children
We come together from different backgrounds and have different opinions
We strive for unity in the midst of diversity and sometimes in disagreement
We are bound together around you, not ourselves and not our agendas
God, you are the gardener, you till the soil which you nourish and enrich
God, your Son is the Vine that provides us the center onto which we hold
God, we are the branches which you prune to permit the fruit to come forth
It is in the garden we see your love
It is in the garden we experience the strength of the Son
It is in the garden that we participate in your strategic biology of unity
It is in the garden that we see life
Thank you God
Amen.

Speaker Introduction 
This morning Kristen McAtee will be leading us in music as well as sharing the message. Kristen preached to us almost 2 years ago exactly as she was at the beginning of serving as the Associate CBF Director where she worked to establish a new vision for young adult ministry in Oklahoma and beyond. She has also served at the Development Director at the OKC Good Shepherd Clinic and as the Minister for Children and Administration at FBC, OKC. During much of that time she was also the President of the Board of Global Women. Kristen received a bachelors of Children and Family Development from California State University Long Beach and a Masters in Church Music from Golden Gate Seminary. Welcome Kristen.

Music
Holy Holy Holy
CCLI Song # 1156
John Bacchus Dykes | Reginald Heber

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning
Our song shall rise to Thee

Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Holy holy holy
All the saints adore Thee
Casting down their golden crowns
Around the glassy sea

Cherubim and seraphim
Falling down before Thee
Which wert and art
And evermore shalt be

Holy holy holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see

Only Thou art holy
There is none beside Thee
Perfect in power
In love and purity

Holy holy holy
Lord God Almighty
All Thy works shall praise Thy name
In earth and sky and sea

Holy holy holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Fairest Lord Jesus
CCLI Song # 27800
August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben | Joseph August Seiss

Fairest Lord Jesus Ruler of all nature
O Thou of God and man the Son
Thee will I cherish Thee will I honor
Thou my soul’s glory joy and crown

Fair are the meadows fairer still the woodlands
Robed in the blooming garb of spring
Jesus is fairer Jesus is purer
Who makes the woeful heart to sing

Fair is the sunshine fairer still the moonlight
And all the twinkling starry host
Jesus shines brighter Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heav’n can boast

Beautiful Saviour Lord of all the nations
Son of God and Son of Man
Glory and honor praise adoration
Now and forevermore be Thine

For The Beauty Of The Earth
CCLI Song # 43200
Conrad Kocher | Folliott Sandford Pierpoint

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night
Hill and vale and tree and flower
Sun and moon and stars of light

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For the joy of ear and eye
For the heart and mind’s delight
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For the joy of human love
Brother sister parent child
Friends on earth and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For Thy church that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For Thyself best gift divine
To the world so freely given
For that great great love of Thine
Peace on earth and joy in heaven

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For the martyrs’ crown of light
For Thy prophets’ eagle eye
For Thy bold confessors’ might
For the lips of infancy

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

For Thy virgins’ robes of snow
For Thy maiden mother mild
For Thyself with hearts aglow
Jesus victim undefiled

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

That Story = My Story 

Last week we saw the apostle Paul on a 600 mile journey from Militeus to Ceasarea on his farewell tour. Stopping at six different communities where he met with the believers and said ‘goodbye’.

And in all six communities the believers begged him to not go to Jerusalem.

Their attempts to dissuade him failed, however, even though they disagreed with him, they still were unified around him. They still went to the beach and  they still prayed for him. They still embraced him. They still teared up at his departure.

This week we go to a similar scenario with Jesus and his disciples. They are all gathered for the Passover Supper. Judas has already left, Jesus has said some very heavy stuff for them to process, and Peter has been cautioned about what is specifically awaiting him the next 24 hours. Jesus is preparing them for his death and ascension. And Jesus begins talking about gardening.

I love gardening!

I love gardening as well!

Oh no, here we go…

My favorite thing to grow is succulents, they grow great here in California.

I love daisies. They are simple and beautiful.

I also love the peach trees and strawberries.

During the hot summer months I love to grow Indian Blanket which is native to Oklahoma.

 We grow mustard seed out here, it was originally planted by the California missions. People looking for the missions would just look for mustard seed to find the mission.

also love the critters I find in may garden – toads, butterflies, birds and squirrels.

Don’t get her started on squirrels.

Their mischief creates problems.

We have bunnies. They also like to create problems in the garden. Sometimes they make a feast of my garden.

Back to today’s story…..

The squirrels don’t just feast on the garden, they steal bulbs and eat through wires.

Okay, squirrels are bad.

Actually I like them.

Maybe we should get back to the passage for today.

Jesus did refer to the Father as the gardener and himself as the true vine.

Yes, Jesus says that the gardener, the Father, cuts off every branch that bears no fruit, and that he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will bear even more fruit.

Jesus tells the disciples that they are already clean because of the words that Jesus has spoken to them. He tells them to remain in him just as he remains in them.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can the disciples, neither can we bear fruit unless we remain in Jesus.

Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Jesus also says, “This is to my Father, the gardener’s, glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Acts 15:1-8

Message        Dependence Day

I’m glad to be with you today – to be with anyone! I am grateful to be getting out again. I will say that pandemic lockdown allowed me to take time to pick up some new habits, like baking sourdough. Yes, I did make my own starter! I also rediscovered knitting and gardening. I have enjoyed some gardening through the years, growing tomatoes and watermelon and a few herbs. But during this pandemic, I had time to really get serious. It didn’t hurt to have several master gardeners in my social circle. It has been quite fun to share cuttings and baby  plants, to celebrate growth, to worry over the plants that are struggling.

One plant in particular has been amazing to watch. My aunt convinced me to plant a passion flower vine. You may know it better as a maypop. We had seen one on a  trip, covered in bees and butterflies, and we were so impressed by it. Last year she gave me a nice cutting. Now, the passion vine has been called “rambunctious,” and all that means is, it grows like crazy. When it started to grow, it grew tall and thick. Multiple branches grew up the trellis I bought for it. All summer it was covered in beautiful purple flowers. The bees and butterflies flocked to it. The fritillary butterflies laid so many little eggs and their caterpillars kept the vine from growing up over the house. The wasps kept the caterpillar population under control. Those that survived became new fritillary butterflies and took more passion vine pollen off to other places. The vine was so thick that I didn’t realize until I was trying to take out the dead vine at the end of summer that the vine actually snapped the metal trellis. The vine lays roots that are wide, spreading just underneath the ground, allowing vines to pop up in the most unexpected places. So after the dead of winter, passion vines began to pop up all over my garden. I found a new vine in the backyard this spring, far from the original, proof that the bees and butterflies did their part. It was a small picture of the circle of life – growth, death, regrowth.

It’s this passion vine that comes to mind when I read John 15. While passion vines don’t grow in the Middle East, I’m sure it was a vine very similar to mine which makes it into Jesus’ story. His disciples were listed as fishermen and tax collectors, but surely they too knew enough of farming to imagine a similar vine. Perhaps they too kept backyard gardens. No doubt the image of a wildly growing vine spreading life into unexpected places seemed just right for Jesus. And it was a good image for them on that night.

It is on this night, just before his arrest at dawn, that Jesus is preparing the disciples for his death and departure. He predicts, yet again, how we will be  betrayed and die. He predicts the betrayal of Peter. It’s a moment that seems like an ending, of closure, as he lets the disciples know what is to come. Jesus says, 14:28-31, “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

Several things are clear from Jesus’ words. First, he is going to the Father. This prediction of his departure should not confuse or upset them. Instead, they should be glad that Jesus is going to the Father. This death is not the devil’s decision. It is the movement of God. Jesus is not influenced or moved by evil, but only by the Father. And the Father is greater than Jesus, a point of fact we sometimes miss. Time and again, Jesus points us to God. God the Father, God the Creator, God the Sustainer, God the Healer. It is God who runs the show.
Jesus is also letting them know that this is not the end. It feels like the end. Death is surely the end! And yet, Jesus talks as though life continues after he leaves. This community of believers will remain. It will be strengthened by the Helper. And Jesus is not done and gone. He has simply gone on to prepare for the disciples arrival. He will show them the Father, the Father they have already seen in him. It is a radical presumption of ongoing life in the midst of a night of death and evil. It is the image of the garden in winter, gone away from our sight, but not truly gone as life goes on under the soil.

After these words, Jesus calls on them to leave. I believe they stepped outside and encountered their own rambunctious vine. Jesus points it out, touches it, and declares, “I am the vine and my Father is the Gardener.” Jesus is the vine, an image well known in biblical texts. There are many parables and pictures of vines representing Israel or the people of God, the wild vines that do as they wish. The vineyards that don’t produce. Jesus takes that image and declares that He is the true vine. And this vine will not run wild or fail to reproduce. This vine is under the control of the Gardener, the Father who is greater than Jesus. God is the source and the guiding hand in all that happens to Jesus.

Have you ever experienced an untended garden? At first it produces well, taking advantage of growing without any constraints. It seems so healthy and natural. But almost overnight, it becomes wild and overgrown. Dead undergrowth prevents sun and water from reaching the roots. Weeds begin to overtake the garden, choking it and stealing the light and water and soil. Insects take over. The garden produces less fruit as the leaves and branches take all the health the vine needs and use it just to grow themselves. A garden must be tended and cut back. It must be trained where to go. I promise you, I spend more time weeding my vine and cutting it back than I do anything else. I have to pull it back from climbing into other plants or climbing wires it should not. The Gardener is an essential, powerful guiding hand.

Jesus has clearly identified that He is the vine and the Father is the Gardener. But there is a third member of this story: the branches. In verse 5, he says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” So now we have the three parties to this parable. The Father, the Son, and the community of believers. Three is an important number in Scripture. Think of the Trinity. Just like the Trinity, the father, son, and holy spirit, these three parties – vine, gardener, and branches – are involved in a mutually dependent relationship. A branch on its own has no use, no value. It cannot bear fruit or grow. Jesus, the Vine, stands as the rooted connector between the branches and the gardener. As we are rooted and related to Jesus who gives us life, we are cared for by the Gardener.

It is the Gardener’s job to decide which branches of the vine need to be pruned. Perhaps at the base of the vine it is easy to discern branches from one another, but most of the vine is an intertwined jumble. It is a mess of leaves and flowers and fruit. As I think of this wild mess of branches, I think of the confusion of our human lives. I cannot always discern who is right, who is wrong, who is following God and who isn’t. The branches cannot decide which of them should stay and which should go and neither can we. Only the Gardener can do that.

All three of these elements are essential to the production of fruit. The branches rely on the vine. The vine draws up water and nutrients from the soil, sending them out to the branches. The leaves take in sun and moisture, sending it back through the branches to the vine. The Gardener tends the branches and the vine, bringing water and keeping the vine clear of dead and non-producing branches. The roots of the vine run strong and deep, holding up the mass of branches as they intertwine and hold each other up. They cling to each other, protect one another, and what happens to one, happens to all. The many elements of this system become one beautiful, glorious picture of life. This is no English garden laid out in strict rows. This is not a series of individual plants  showing off their individual glory. This is a living, breathing community.

Recently I’ve been reading a book called “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She is a scientist by training, but she is also Pottawatomie. In this book she interweaves Native knowledge and scientific knowledge. She shares the science of the Three Sisters – corns, beans, and squash. The First Nations grew them together. The corn would shoot up first, gathering sun. Their leaves are carefully placed, no one leaf on top of another so that all have enough sun. The beans would stretch out roots underground long before they would reach out of the dirt. They gathered up essential nutrients from the soil deep underground. In fact, beans are essential to the garden. Only beans can take nitrogen from the soil and make is useful, thus giving the corn and squash better growing conditions. Finally the squash leaves would come up. Their prickly leaves keep the insects away from the other plants. They share the resources. The corn with its shallow roots takes water from the top of the soil. The deep rooted beans draw up water from further below. The squash stretches out far away from the corn and beans to find water they can’t reach. Each one contributes in different ways to the system, each one is more healthy because of their relationship to one another. They would not grow as well individually in perfect rows, ever. They needed one another and what each one could give.

These interdependent vines and gardens are lessons to us from God. Jesus would not share these lessons if it weren’t so. But these lessons are a challenge to contemporary Western models of just about everything. In a culture where we celebrate billionaires who make it all on their own and demand that each individual have the autonomy to decide everything on their own, this model of dependence and interdependence is radical.

It is clear that we branches do not bear fruit if we are not living in dependence on the vine. What is our fruit? The fruit is acts of love. Just before the disciples and Jesus came to this vine, Jesus was telling them this very thing. He says, if you love me, keep my commands. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Our acts of love are to follow Jesus’ commands to love and to care for others. Our root is Jesus. Jesus is molded and shaped by the Father, the Gardener. If we are true branches, we too will be in the shape given by the Father. We show we are a part of the vine by how we act. When we act in accordance with the community of love, we are one with the Father and with Jesus.

For the writer of John, there is only one measure of membership in the faith community. It is to love as Jesus loved. All are welcome. Old, young, all ethnicities, genders, sexualities, socio-economic levels, education levels, disabilities – none of that matters. You can’t be cut off the vine for that. You are only cut out of the faith community for not committing to the community of love and acts of love. If our churches shaped ourselves like this, we would send a radical and life-changing message to the world. You might want to remind me of Paul’s image of the church as individual body parts, but Paul said they all work together and to what end? Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest is love.

If we truly lived like this, the church would be known as a community in which members are known for acts of love done in common with other members. We would not be known for famous individuals. We would not be known for our individual choices or rights. Our community would be built around accountability to the abiding presence of Christ. Our community would be healthier and more productive. This is the lesson of the vine.

This week our nation celebrated Independence Day. That holiday is fraught with too many emotions and feelings for me to judge or comment upon. I would suggest that instead we who are citizens of a more eternal and powerful Kingdom should celebrate Dependence Day. We ought to celebrate that we are able to be dependent on a God of great grace, mercy, and love, who is strong enough to protect and provide for us. We ought to celebrate and recognize the glory we have living as branches in a vine rooted in love, care, and self-sacrifice. All our needs are met by the Gardener. Our food and sustenance spring from the vines deep roots. What we produce together is glorious! Love, community, and food for all who come. Let’s celebrate today, and every day, our Dependence Day.

Benediction

After Jesus spoke with his disciples, he told them it was time to leave, it was time to leave. As they all stepped out they probably encountered a rambunctious vine.

Jesus pointed the vine out to the disciples, he touched it and probably invited them to take a closer look at it as well.

Then he proclaimed “I am the vine and my Father is the Gardener.”

It must have been an odd statement but I think that possibly they were beginning to understand.

I think so to, being in a garden, even with a wild rambunctious vine, you can understand a little bit more about God and life.

So, now it is our time to leave, to get out of here and step into the garden. To touch the wild vine and to notice the vine and the gardener.

It is time to step out into the Marketplace, the public square, in our homes, with our friends, our families, our enemies, and even those that we are scared of – there are all kinds of gardens for us to step into.

But there is only one vine that is strong enough to endure and to support us.

And there is only one gardener that cares for and understands the garden and recognizes the needs.

So, it is time to leave, time to go. To go in peace, to go in mercy and compassion, it is time to step out into the garden.

As we step into all different kinds of gardens, all with the same vine to cling to and the same gardener to trust, we go. As we do may our feet get muddy, may we have dirt under our nails, may we quickly wipe the sweat from our brow, may we consistently know the gardener more intimately, and may our grasp on the vine become increasingly confident and secure. Let’s go.

Closing Peace 

May the love of the Father go with you.

And also with you.

Let’s go. Let’s go into the marketplace among all the other loved descendants of God. Let’s go, let’s go as loved children of God in the midst of the public square filled with those unknowingly yearning to be a child of God. Let’s go, let’s go held by the embrace of grace, the comfort of peace, the confidence of joy, the proof of love, and confidence of hope. Let’s go!

Published by rickanthony1993

Husband of Andrea, Father of five, pastor of Grace Fellowship Norman OK.

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