Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year B)
Scripture Readings*: Acts 8:26-40, I John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8, Psalm 22:24-30
Perhaps the most striking element in the story is that God led Philip away from an effective evangelistic campaign that was reaching hundreds to witness to a single individual. Let’s never forget that every individual is important to God. Our witnessing to a single person is as important as the mass evangelist’s outreach to thousands.
1 John 4:7-21
The prime directive for believers is to love one another. Love comes from God, is revealed in Christ, and is to be lived by Jesus’ people (vv. 7–12). God has given us His Spirit, for we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and rely fully on His love (vv. 13–16). God is love, and as we love the experience of being loved and loving drives out our fears of punishment (vv. 17–18). Again John sums up. Anyone who claims to love God and yet fails to love his brother is a liar. Love for God expresses itself in love for others also (vv. 19–21).
The image of the Vine and branches focuses on the experiential aspect of a theological reality. We are united with Jesus (Rom. 6:1–14). To produce spiritual fruit, we must “abide in” the relationship that faith has established.
Jesus is the source of spiritual vitality and fruitfulness. As His disciples we must remain “in” Him, intimately connected by responsive obedience to His commands.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Vintners, like most people, often want what they can’t have. They yearn for a particular varietal of grape that is often not compatible with the climate or growing conditions of their vineyard. In order to cultivate the desired vine, they often graft a new varietal to old stock. By attaching it to roots already firmly established and acclimated to the environment, the new grape is able to adapt and flourish in an environment in which it would not otherwise survive.
Jesus’ use of gardening metaphors is appropriate. On our own, we do not have the root system to grow and thrive in God’s Kingdom. In a very real sense, we are “grafted” into “old stock” – attached to Christ and the very root of faith itself. He has already proven Himself to withstand the storms and the heat of testing and trial. He has shown Himself faithful to produce an eternal harvest. In Him we flourish and thrive, able to firmly take hold in the Kingdom of God with roots that cannot be damaged or killed.
Prayer for Fifth Sunday in Easter – Gracious God, cultivate my life to offer nurture and nourishment to those around me; through Jesus Christ, Amen.
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B