It's amazingly large and probably the oldest vine in the world. Planted in 1768, the Great Vine at Hampton Court Palace, UK, is 12 foot around the base, with its longest branch 120 feet in length! Typically harvested in September, it takes the vine keeper three weeks to remove the fruit of grapes weighing as much as 705 lbs. That's a lot of fruit.
Now let me tell you about one of the oldest and largest congregations in the Southern Illinois District. Planted in 1847 with a current membership of 960 baptized souls, it is being served by a single vine keeper who by God's grace rejoices in his work as Zion's pastor and seeks to speak from the heart to the people of God at Zion: We need Jesus for everything in life.
It's that simple. Some might even say it goes without saying. I believe it's that important to say again: We need Jesus for everything. That's what Jesus meant when He said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit." As the branch gets everything needful for life by its connection to the vine, we need to be connected to Jesus . . . to receive everything needful for life in this world (and to be sure) life in the next.
If branches could talk, the branches of the Great Vine of Hampton would surely boast, "Our vine is the best, the greatest, the most life-giving vine. We the branches, burst and bloom and bear the sweetest fruit, all because we belong to the Great Vine." Okay, branches can't talk. But believers connected to Jesus, the True Vine, can talk. And part and parcel of being one of God's branches, members of His kingdom, is to boast of our Jesus. For example: If someone were to ask you today, "What's the most important thing in your life?" What would you say? Fact is, what you value most in life will be expressed in the spending of your time, your wealth, your talent, and all you treasure in life. Jesus Christ is everything to me. Is he everything to you?
Without Jesus I have nothing. Without Jesus I can do nothing. If one of those branches were cut off from the Great Vine, there'd be no fruit. Without Jesus there will be no joy, no hope, no love, no forgiveness, no peace, as Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing." Therefore I say to you, take care of your connection to Jesus. Without a good graft (at best) the branch will wither and fruit be lean. Be on guard against any that would harm your relationship, your connection, your receiving of God's love and forgiveness. Take care of your connection to your True Vine, Jesus Christ. The new life begun in baptism, God wants to flourish and bear fruit for His vineyard. Grow in His word; drink deep of His sap of life. Know what He has done for you. Trust in His promise. And "whoever abides in me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit."Pastor Kelly Mitteis
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