The Telephone Tree

"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)

Doug Wingert lives in Arizona. As he writes, many of us around the world are "locked down" because of a pandemic. Many churches have canceled worship services, Bible studies, Sunday school classes, committee meetings, and mission projects.

At first, they were dismayed at the thought of closing their church campus. Their concerns were lessened when some of their members began live streaming their worship services and making recordings that could be viewed at any time. Their pastors created a telephone tree - a network of people who would contact others on a regular basis to support each other, worship together by phone, share joys and sorrows, and pray together. Others reached out by email or private messages through social media. The network spread wider and was transformed into something new.

When the current health crisis has abated and their church can resume its regular activities, their congregation plans to continue its new ways of ministering to their neighbors, friends, those who are homebound, and others. Today's reading reminds us that Jesus is the vine that connects us to one another and to God. Jesus is with us no matter how we connect.

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, thank you for providing us with creative ways to follow you and the reminder that church is not a building but a community of your faithful followers, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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