Trust in God
Trust in God
Today St. Andrew’s celebrates it’s birthday and it is fitting that our gospel passage focuses on trust. Not just our trust in God, but God’s trust in us. The Psalmist proclaims it and Jesus tells us that he is the true vine and that so long as we dwell in him we will bear good fruit. A wonderful message to reflect on as a community of faith as we mark our 188th anniversary as a congregation.
Scripture: Psalm 22: 25-31 and John 15: 1-8
A special thank you to our musicians who prepare music for us to enjoy every Sunday: Carolyn Hyma, Bryan MacInnes, Rob Lenters, Janet Leadbeater and Diana Carr.
Be sure to read about the impact the Warming Room ministry that St. Andrew’s participated in had on those who ouind themselves homeless during the Covid-19 pandemic this past winter.
This week I’m happy to share a video from Dollar Store Children’s Sermons. Developed by Pastor John Stevens of Zion Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Oregon City. John presents the bible passages in fun and engaging ways by using common household items or things we might find at a Dollar Store.
Parents you may want to watch the video first and then engage your kids with one of the activities mentioned. The other option is to skip ahead to the 7 minute mark where an fun illustration is given about being welcomed into the family of God.
Trust in God
What does the person of faith look like? Is the faith-filled person someone who exudes a serene confidence, a calmed and hushed and unperturbed spirit? Or is the faith-filled one the active and always-in-motion kingdom worker who is mostly a kind of holy blur of volunteerism? Is faith a set of convictions that could be counted-cross-stitched and hung on a wall or is faith seen best only when it is put into practice out on the nitty-gritty streets of the real world?
In the Bible Abraham is the father of all faith, and his life was mostly a series of journeys that involved trust. By faith Abraham packed up everything he owned one day and set off on a long trip toward an as-yet unspecified far country. God said “Go” and Abraham went. God said “Go to a place I will show you later” but Abraham did not reply, “Well, if I’m going to go, could you at least give me a hint, a general direction, a region on the map?” No, Abraham just went–no map, no end destination. Just a wing and a prayer, a dream of starry skies and sandy seashores and a home country out there . . . Somewhere.
And that’s faith, we say. It was a leap of faith, and most of us believe at some level that sooner or later faith will involve a leap, a jump into the unknown. (Scott Hoezee)
My thanks to Scott Hoezee for writing so succinctly those thoughts on what a person of faith might look like. As Christians, belief and faith define us.
Faith has also been described as going fishing and taking the biggest frying pan you own along with you. Faith is gathering to pray for rain and bringing an umbrella.
Our faith in God, the Trinity and what we believe about that. I’m currently reading The Sin of Certainty: why God desires our trust more than our ‘correct beliefs by Peter Enns. In his book Peter argues that wherever you see the words belief or faith, replace them with trust.
Enns argues that trust doesn’t allow for wiggle room. We can argue and debate about our beliefs, there are many Christian traditions and each believes and sees things a differently. There is room for debate, growth and change with belief. Not that belief is bad, far from it. Regarding trust, well we either trust God or we don’t. There are no half measures when it comes to trust.
Belief, faith, and trust. We believe many things about Jesus. That he is the Good Shepherd, that he is the Gate and today that he is the True Vine. We believe these things and we trust them to be true.
Our passage from last week and this week form a broader theme of discipleship. Not discipleship at the individual level, we find those stories when Jesus calls the disciples. What we find in these passages from John is a wider call to discipleship that is embraced by the church, by communities of faith.
Last week Jesus was our shepherd, this week he is the vine. Both passages speak about the relationship we, as follower of Christ, have with God and just as importantly how the church relates to Jesus.
What is apparent in the passage is God’s desire for goodness from us. God wants us to bear good fruit. God wants our relationship with God to be good. God wants that relationship to have an impact on other people and the communities we serve.
Jesus tells us that this will happen if we remain with Christ, who is the true vine. In order to remain in Christ we need to trust that God does indeed want this goodness for us.
Gail O’Day asks two questions about this passage:
- First, ‘What does it mean for the church to live as the branches of Christ, the vine?’
- Second, ‘What would church look like if it embraced this model for its corporate life?’
We’ve moved now from what does a person of faith look like, to what does the church look like if operates from a place of faith and trust. Each of us represents the church, each of us is a reflection of God’s love for creation. So long as we remain in Christ, trusting that God is with us, then we will bear much fruit. We will have an impact on God’s creation, and prayerfully that impact will be tangible and will help people. We need to trust that this is true, what we believe about God matters less. If we don’t trust that God wants this for God’s creation, for our individual lives and our common life together, then what we believe about God won’t matter. We must trust in God.
When we trust in God, when we place our faith in God, so too is our hope. That by being part of the true vine lives and communities are changed for the better. It is important to note that when Jesus is talking here about the vines and the branches, all the branches originate in Jesus. It is those who have chosen not to trust that are cut out. But all the branches begin in Jesus.
About this passage Gennifer Brooks writes, “It speaks of the interrelationship wrought by and required for true community. It speaks also of mutuality, evidenced in love of neighbor, expressed to those outside of our immediate and normal circles. The imagery speaks of interdependence rather than the independence and self-dependence so highly valued…” (Gennifer Brooks)
When we trust in God, we set aside a part of our independence. We lean back and rely on God’s goodness and grace for our lives. The Psalmist gets it, Psalm 22 is written from a place of trust and that trust turns to praise. God gets it and all the nations and peoples will praise God, for God has done it.
If we trust that God has done it, then it makes it easy and natural to remain or abide in Christ. Christ is our hope, the light that pushes away the darkness.
Novelist Anne Lamott has said, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” (Anne Lamott) As followers of Christ, our hope is rooted in Christ. We abide in Christ, we trust in Christ. Doing the right thing is living a life that emulates Christ’s. Loving people, caring for people, putting grace and mercy before the rule of law.
As people of faith, we remain, we abide, we are still and calm with Christ Jesus. In doing so we are called to grow as a fruitful branch of the vine, vibrant and active. Trusting that we will be nurtured by the true vine and that we will bear much fruit. Thanks be to God for all of this. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security.
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Thank you for visiting St. Andrew’s. It’s our prayer that this sermon was helpful to your walk of faith. We would ask you to prayerful consider donating to the mission of St. Andrew’s. You can make an online donation through our website.