Good and gracious God –
We can feel Spring approaching. The branches are budding, flowers blooming. Winter may not leave easily, but we stir, feeling renewal is close at hand. We are reassured by this constancy of familiar change, recognizing – in awesome wonder – that you have built a pattern of rest and restoration, of sleep and rebirth into the very fabric of our universe.
In a similar way, we recognize this language of branch and vine – which we will ponder today – represents a deeper, broader truth. We pray for the wisdom, courage and faith to be rooted more deeply in you, the source of all we are and all we have. We pray that we might open ourselves – in ever increasing trust – to the ways it pleases you to come into our lives: as Truth, to be spoken; as Life, to be lived; as Light and Love, to be shared; as Joy, to be given; as Peace, to be spread*; as Sacrifice, to be offered among our relatives and friends, among our neighbors and all people. We pray that for ourselves and those we love as individuals, and we pray this for our congregation as a whole.
If some here this morning are dry and brittle, disconnected, blinded to your presence – please work, Holy Spirit, even more powerfully in and through this fellowship that we might all see you at work and be encouraged to a deeper trust and faith. We are reminded, in Jeremiah, that God promised – even after their exile – to build the nation of Israel up once more. God says “If you stay here, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you.” Give us the courage to stay in this place, Lord, and be changed.
*portions of the preceding part of this sentence were drawn from something I read on the internet and then could not find again. If someone finds the author of the original text (mine is similar but not exactly the same), please let me know.