Here is today's message from worship, based on John 15: 1-8

There are probably more songs recorded about breaking up than anything else.
We could maybe make a list as long as your arm of songs expressing that theme.
A relationship that becomes disconnected is one of the greatest pains we can have.
One of the biggest hit songs about this was called ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’.
It was first done by Gladys Knight and the Pips and then a year later by Marvin Gaye.
The first lyrics go like this -

I bet you're wonderin' how I knew
'Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys, you know I loved you more
It took me by surprise I must say, when I found out yesterday
Don't you know that I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh, I heard it through the grapevine
I'm just about to lose my mind

The guy wanted the girl to remain connected with him, but she had other plans.
Even though he loved her more, she still was gonna choose to leave him.
And that prospect caused him a great deal of sorrow and anxiety.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells his followers for them to“abide in me”.
The word “abide” means several things, but here what Jesus means is ‘to remain’.
He wants them to remain connected with him, even after he ascends to heaven. 
They need to ‘remain with him’, he says, in order for them to be well and do well in life.

The image that he uses to describe the benefit of that is the image of a grapevine.
That was an image often used in the Old Testament, so his disciples could relate to it.
He tells them that he is the main grapevine that they need to stay connected with.
Like any branch that needs to be connected to it’s main vine to do well and bear fruit,
so too do they need to remain connected with and nourished by him.

So, as we know, when Jesus speaks to his disciples, he’s also speaking to us.
Therefore, it stands to reason that Jesus wants us to stay connected with him too.
Why?  For the same reasons that he gives the disciples.
That, abiding in, or remaining connected to him, we do better for ourselves and others.

Now we all know, as Jesus said, a branch cut off from the main vine will shrivel and die.
But I think what afflicts us as Jesus’ present day disciples is not being cut off from him.
Sure, there are some who have cut themselves off from him in one way or another.
But most of us, I hope, feel somewhat like we are connected with Jesus.

If we come to worship on Sundays, we hopefully feel connected to Jesus.
And if we can’t get to worship but practice prayer life and/or bible or devotional reading we can be connected. to him.
Yet, do we remain connected with Jesus day in and day out in our daily lives?
Do we, as we make our choices and decisions in life, remain connected to the grapevine of Jesus?

Are we connected with that grapevine to be fed with the advice from his words?
Do we consider what he did in situations and his actions in our own actions?
When we begin to criticize others do we remain connected with the main grapevine?
Do we get nourished by what he said about looking inwardly at our own faults?
Is our spirit connected with His when we encounter ethical dilemmas or moral choices?
When we’ve hurt someone, or we’ve been hurt, do we remain connected with the wisdom and life of that grapevine regarding asking for or handing out forgiveness?

I know for me, personally, this is a daily flaw and fault and failing on my part.
Sometimes I only return to the vine after the fact of the matter (better late than never).
But other times I’ve ignored the benefit of remaining connected to the vine of life.
Instead, I think that I know better what’s good for me, and thus try to live without the goodness of the main grapevine of Jesus Christ.

So it’s not that we choose to leave him, maybe more likely that we just don’t remain with him as a regular part of our daily mindset. 
Failing to be regularly nourished from the words that he has spoken to us.
Starving ourselves from the benefit of his example in how he lived his life, doing for others and forgiving people?
Neglecting to bear more fruit than we could, doing for others and helping the outcasts.
Living, as he did, when we are nourished by remaining connected with him.

Eventually and in the end, I want to come back to be nourished and fed and blessed.
And, in that way, we can bear more fruit and be more of a blessing to others.
Because it’s true that this main vine of Jesus, does give us new life every day.
And I know its true because,… don’t ya know,… I heard it from the grapevine.
Heard it from the main grapevine himself, the main vine that is Jesus the Christ.

Amen