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This Sunday, Suzanne Brown will read a verse from the Gospel of John. In this scripture Jesus says to his followers: “Abide in me as I abide in you. “
“Abide” is our word of the day! It is a word that we don’t use very much, and it’s important that you understand what it means. “Abide” means: to “Stay close to me” or to “stick with me.” It means to be “rooted in place”, but to grow and to change as you grow, like a tree of a plant or a vine.
We abide with our family. We abide with our friends of all ages. The hundreds of memories and experiences you share along with new experiences will change you and will change who you become. Like trees or vines, we grow and change.
No matter how old you are, your family will always be your family. When you are grown, and move away from home, your memories and connection to your family – to your parents, your grandparents, your brothers and sisters – will continue. They will abide. Your memories of your friends and neighbors, of others who are important to you, and the places you love will also continue. We abide with who and what is most important in our lives.
In the scripture Suzanne will read, Jesus asks his disciples to abide with God. He asks us to make ourselves at home in the church and in the church community, and to show our love to others by being kind to those around us.
“I am the true vine; my Abba Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.”
Every gardener and every person who grows fruit, knows that they need to trim the fruit tree or vine, to get the best fruit. If they don’t the fruit will be tiny and there won’t be as much of it. Just like a gardener who prunes the tree, we change as we grow. You are not the same person you were two years ago. You are taller. You have learned new skills, and you have probably changed some of your habits. Habits such as selfishness, and using words that hurt others, make it hard for other people to see how much we love them. As we grow to become strong and loving adults, we need to change our habits.
“I am the vine, and you are the branches.”
No branch can produce fruit unless it is connected to a tree or vine. No one can do everything themselves. We all rely on others: for food, for help, for love, and for support. We find God in our community. The people you meet and the things you do with others change you.
Jesus teaches us to love God and to care for each other. When we are loving, when we treat others with kindness we make the world a better place. When we are kind to others, they will follow our example. They will also share their love and be kind to other people. Our kindness can grow like a vine, from one person to another.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.“
We abide with God by showing kindness to others. We abide with God by taking care of the earth, and by taking the time to enjoy this lovely world. On Sunday Sue will remind us that we also abide in God when we take time to be silent, to spend time walking or sitting quietly – without talking. Talk to God, and pray for those who need prayers. New thoughts and ideas may come to you in those quiet moments when you take time to be still.
Sometimes you can pray by writing or drawing. As you are thinking about people you care about, family, friends, or friends from church, and thinking about who to pray for today, write their names on the branches of this Prayer Tree. Decorate their names and the tree with colored pencils or markers as you talk to God about them.
The scripture tells us that we are shaped by the words we hear, by the people we meet and by the things we do. It tells us that our lives will be good, and will bear good fruit, when we abide with our community, when we help them and become part of their lives. Each experience you have, every person you meet, and every act of kindness you give or receive will help you grow stronger and will help you understand the world a little better.
May the week ahead give you many chances to share your love and prayers with others.
You are blessed to be a blessing.
At the very beginning of service this Sunday, Mary Flaherty will read the first sentences from The Bible: "In the beginning God created the sky and the earth….Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water. Then God said, 'Let there be light!” And there was light...' - Adapted from The International Children's Bible No...
Happy New Year! This Sunday, January 3rd is the first Sunday in the new year, and is the Sunday before Epiphany. Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is always celebrated on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas Day; it celebrates the coming of the wise kings to Bethlehem. The wise kings, or magi, lived very far from Bethlehem. The Bible does not say...
Twas the evening of Christmas, when all through the town,
Every inn was so crowded, no room could be found.
Tired Mary and Joseph, who went door to door,
At last found a place on a small stable floor.
For over 200 years, families have enjoyed Dr. Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas echoes the familiar language and rhythm of Dr. Clements’ poetry, but instead of focusing on Santa, it focuses on the baby Jesus.
Enjoy Peg Koller’s reading of it here.
Merry (almost) Christmas!
This Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, we will light three candles on the Advent wreath: The candle of hope, the candle of faith and the pink candle, which is the candle of JOY. When Jock and Vicki Bourneuf light the advent candles, Vicki will read: “We embrace the joy that comes from the beauty of tradition, the beauty of memory, the beauty of...
The Ramsden Family will light the second Advent candle tomorrow, to celebrate the second Sunday in Advent. The first candle, which we lit last week, is the candle of Hope. The second candle is the candle of Faith. Have you ever walked on a path in the woods that has been used for many years? It is very easy to see which way to go because so many...
Do you remember your first day of school this year? Many families start planning for the new school year way ahead of time. You might have needed to get a new backpack or new clothes or shoes. You usually need to buy markers and scissors, tape and paper and notebooks. You probably packed your backpack the night before and got a good night’s sleep...
Many years ago, my husband lost his job. Our two sons were young, and I was working part-time – but I was not earning enough to pay for our house and everything we needed. It was a difficult time to find work. During that time, our son’s school had a food drive. I wanted to donate something, but said to a friend, “We just can’t afford to give what we’d like to give.” She reminded me that if everyone gives a little, there will be a lot to share. When I dropped off our donation, I saw tables filled with cans & boxes of food, from the many families who gave “a little.”
This week’s readings and story are about fear and about trust: trust in ourselves, trust in our families, trust in God. In today’s parable (or story) a very wealthy man, who owned lots of land, was planning to go on a long journey. He called together three men who helped him manage his land, and gave them each money; he asked them to take care of the money for him while he was away. The money was paid in “talents”; a talent was worth a lot – probably more than $10,000.
Most of us love to attend celebrations with friends or families, such as family reunions, birthday parties or weddings. When you are getting ready for a special event, you have to plan ahead. You’ll need to do some shopping, for a card or a gift, or for food to share. You might need to dress up. And if you’re in the wedding, you will probably wear a special outfit!
Every family has traditions. Our family has carved or decorated a Halloween pumpkin for many MANY years, but people have been celebrating Halloween for hundreds of years. Halloween is always celebrated on October 31st; Halloween is also called “All Hallow’s Eve” or “The Eve of All Saints Day. All Saints Day is always one day later, on November 1st. All Soul’s Day, or Dia de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) is celebrated on November 2nd.