This is the introductory sermon to the series A Deep Life and looks at Psalm 1:1-3 and John 15:1-5. We live in a busy world that pulls us in many directions. A Deep Life is one that takes a breath and sinks roots deeply into the Love of God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the world.
I invite you to take out a writing utensil. You can write in your bulletin, or on another piece of paper.
Write down what you think of when you hear the word “Deep?”
What makes you go, “Whoa, dude, that was deep?”
Now look at these two rivers. Which one is deeper?
How many of you think the one on the right is deeper? Yes. Why? Because it is still. The shallow river is rough and seems to be moving faster.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about the word deep I think of things that move slower than regular life.
Things just seem to move so fast in our culture. This is especially true if there are kids involved. In the suburbs a few things combine to make our lives move so fast:
- If our kids want to do anything, they have to be driven there.
- We feel pressure to have our kids involved in several different things at the same time, so a child has karate, soccer, music lesson, and tutoring…all on the same day! Multiply that by two or three children, two parents working, and often multiple families and homes, and you get non-stop motion.
- Our lives often look more like the raging rapids than the calm, flowing river.
Today we are starting a Series called A Deep Life.
Let me tell you why. Last Spring we experienced some big changes at Easter. Pastor Kris took a medical leave and was gone for three months. That left us wondering what might happen. It was a sense of pause, like when you’re holding your breath. Then she announced her resignation. This pushed us into another three months of wondering, “What next?”
Back in May Pastor Brandon, Pastor Angela, and I sat down and said, regardless of what happens, we need to have a plan for the Fall and a worship series that will be helpful. So, we looked at our vision documents.
I love this image. We believe that God is calling Easter be and do all kinds of wonderful things. But of all these statements, it seemed like the one we need the most right now is the third one: We believe God is calling Easter Lutheran to a deep life of prayer and worship.
Being the new kid on the block, I dug a little deeper and found this amazing paragraph. Let’s read it together.
God is calling Easter to
a deep life of
All that we do will be covered in prayer.
We will continue to provide both
new forms of worship.
All worshipers will be invited to connect into spiritually supportive relationships where they can
grow in faith and
dive deep into Scripture. (Acts 2:42)
That seems like a lot. It might even seem like we’re going to try to add more stuff and activity to an already busy life.
But it’s just the opposite. What we need more than anything right now is to…
That is why I’m so excited to have Pastor Lamont here. An interim lead pastor’s job is to help us take a deep breath, to slow down, and to learn how to listen to what God is doing and how we can join God in God’s mission.
That is what our scripture tells us today.
Look at Psalm 1:1-3 again.
“Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.” (Psalm 1:1–3, NRSV)
A Deep Life is one that is rooted in the wisdom and teaching of God and not distracted by foolish things that are just a waste of time.
Notice how this is the same thing Jesus says to his disciples in John 15.
““I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1–5, NRSV)
This time, however, Jesus helps us out. He assures us that he is deeply connected to God’s teaching and wisdom. We just need to be connected to him, and we will be the fruitful branch.
God’s love is infinite and mysterious and very hard to grasp. That is why we need Jesus Christ. Jesus is God become human, so that we can see what it actually looks like to be a human who is in a deep relationship with God. God’s love is demonstrated through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Jesus helps us understand God’s love, but we still don’t know how to live it and we don’t have the strength, in ourselves, to love like God does. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to empower us. The Spirit is the core energy that fuels God’s love in our lives.
Finally, we don’t grow deeper in God’s love so that we can reap all the benefits and just have a personal relationship with God. We grow deeper so that our lives reach widely and bear fruit for the sake of the world.
Say this out loud with me. If we want to reach further, we have to grow deeper.
One of the things that drew me to Easter was the incredible ministry we have with our neighbors as we strive to blur the lines between church and community. But, if we start thinking that this is our work, based on our strengths and smarts, we will start to dry up.