“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” (John 15:5 NIV)
For Christmas I received one of those kits that determines one’s heritage. It’s a pretty easy process. You fill up a small vial with saliva, which takes a lot longer than you expect, close it up and seal it in the self-addressed box and ship it back. They even pay the postage.
I received the results back last week after a wait of about four weeks. I can’t say there were a lot of surprises. I’m mostly British/Irish, which in looking at what I know of our family heritage means mostly Welsh/Irish. There was a decent amount of German heritage that I knew would be there. I was surprised to see there was about a 5% addition of Scandinavian in the report. But given their invasion of the British Isles it does make sense. All of which explains my inability to tan, my reddish hair as a baby and my love of Fish and Chips.
There is a lot of information in the report, which I haven’t even begun to glean yet. And it’s odd to see the list of people who have taken the same test to whom I may be related. It’s odd to see the names and faces of people you don’t know with whom you share a common heritage. We know, intellectually, they are out there, but it’s somehow more real when you see names and faces.
One of the interesting things is what the percentage of one’s heritage tells you about your family. In short the more of someone’s DNA you have, the higher the possibility you had grandparents, or great grandparents who were 100 % that genetic make up (in my case Welsh/Irish). The less the percentage the further back the family member is in one’s family tree.
Let’s not let that pass us by. The closer the connection, the greater amount of that person’s makeup is likely to pass on to us. In a sense this is what Jesus is talking about in the Scripture. He is the vine and we are the branches. Spiritually everything we get is from him We do nothing on our own. And the more attached we are to the vine the more of the spiritual DNA is passed on to the branches.
It seems that we miss that in the church today. It’s ironic because it’s such a familiar verse. We’ve heard I read hundreds of items. Seen it on posters, memes and greeting cards. We sang about it in VBS. Yet somehow it seems that we’ve missed the point in the church.
We measure our spirituality, our Christianity, by how much we do for God. How busy we are for him, because of course busyness equals being a great Christian. We worry about numbers both in attendance and in our finances. In fact, we are tempted to measure success by how much the church has grown, how much was given and how many people attended our church events.
Jesus suggests something far different. Jesus tells us in the Scripture the main issue is the connection. The more we are connected to Him the more he will naturally pass onto us His spirit, His heart, in fact His life. We don’t become more like Jesus by running around doing things. We become more like Him by making a concentrated effort to stay connected to Him.
So take a breath today. Put your schedule aside for a few moments. And just reconnect. Pray. Read the Bible. Sit in silence. But be connected. The branch withers when it is cut off from the vine. The more connected you are, the more the Holy Spirit is made evident in our lives. He is the vine and we are the branches.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><