Trinity Anglican Church
Sermons Table of Contents spacer
Quinquagesima Sunday

Let us pray:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

+

Good Morning and welcome to Quinquagesima Sunday!

Its good to be back after our travels and adventures!

This Sunday is meant to act as another of what I call milestone Sundays as we journey toward Lent and then, to arguably the most important of Christian holidays, Easter.

This Sunday is led off with the term quinquagesima – that long Latin tongue twister of a title – it derives "Medieval Latin from Latin quinquāgēsima fiftieth."

In our church calendar, this is the fiftieth day before Easter (if you include this Sunday).

The next fifty days are meant to be a journey. We as believers are meant to examine ourselves, our hearts, as we look to that final sacrifice on Calvary. What is our faith based on?

In today’s sermon, we’re going to examine the idea of just that – what is it all based on for the believer?  We’ll consider the text of our second reading, John 15:1-17. This series of verses contain some of Jesus’ most powerful words. 

We start with Jesus talking to the disciples about a vine, from verses 15:1 to 15:6,

Why a vine?  Because, as He always did with his parables, Jesus used something familiar to His listeners to illustrate the truth He would develop.

The husbandman, or vineyard keeper, was someone that was familiar in ancient Israel, as wine was a common drink (usually because it was safer that the water) So, then, because of that importance, the lore of how a vine was handled to produce the greatest number of grapes was pretty well known.

We are the branches, those weak tendrils from the main stalk, who reach outward to the world. If we get disconnected from the vine by sin, or neglect, we lose His strength, His essence that enlivened us to move outward in the first place.  

The reading contains several references to abide and abiding.  What does He mean here?

Examining the Greek for these words reveals the word meno, which has several different meanings, among which are ‘to stay with, to sojourn [or travel] with, to be held, [or] kept continually.’

What He is telling the disciples, and all believers is that if we live into Him, into His call to us as believers, He will remain with us, and we will be the better for it.

But how do we live in Him? In this reading,  He gives us the way to do it. Simple, right?   We will find that the commandment is not so very simple at all.

Verse 15:9 is fundamental – "As the Father hath loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. He welcomes us to live and exist in His Love, and in verse 15:10, He tells us how.

Keep His commandments – That’s it.  By following this command, we live into His call for our lives.  15:11 describes that by following Him in this way, we will find His joy filling our lives.

Many of us can attest to this – when we are following His call on our lives as He would have us do it, there are many joys and peace in the time of trouble, peace that really doesn’t make sense.

Then comes verse 15:12, that commandment. " …love one another, as I have loved you" and 15:13 clarifies the whole scope – "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends"

Oh, my.

Well, there it is.  To lay down your life for your friends.  To love as He loved us.

One can imagine the disciples reaction.  What does He mean now? He speaks in such riddles and it takes so much to understand them.  He called us his friends after saying that? What did He mean?

We can echo this today - That is a VERY daunting command, a mission to save someone at your own expense. As selfish, carnal people, how could we ever step forward and claim such a thing?

There are two advantages the believer has.

The first was one the disciples had to wait about 46 more days to see.  When Jesus gave His all on Golgotha, He showed them the ultimate sacrifice.   They were shattered and bereft of hope. He was gone.

But, then, three days later, HE was there!

By showing them that He had not died after that horrific sacrifice, but now lived, He showed them that abiding in Jesus had eternal permanence, something that they could now SEE.

The second appears to the disciples later, another fifty days later, in fact! (some more of God’s symmetry!)

We are introduced at Pentecost to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.  He instructs us and guides us as we submit daily to Jesus.  We are NEVER alone, nor never ill armed. In this, we have GOD on our side in the form of the Holy Spirit. 

The reading finishes with Jesus telling the disciples that they are no longer servants, but friends, since they are in His confidence now.

Verse 15:16 talks about His choice of the disciples and, basically, each of us. Is that this thing called predestination,  where our fate is known before we decide that was of such concern in the earlier church? I don’t know, but God does.

He also speaks about fruit – here he doesn’t mean grapes, or anything else on a vine. He is talking about the results of the faith we hold. The fruits here are results.  Results of faith are the times we witness and show our faith through actions, and through words.  

Also, consider this – fruit is nourishment. He means for this fruit to flourish, and remain –to strengthen even after we are gone.  That’s the principle of a good vineyard – they last years on good husbandry.

It is also about people , about those we inspire to examine Him and test Him through our example. At this point, I always think of the question "If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" I do hope so.  The people you inspire then inspire others – more nourishment for the world as time goes on.

And, finally, if I may bounce back a bit,  there is a verse that has always convicted me and given me cause to pause.   It is the latter part of verse 15:5,

for without me, you can do nothing.

To me, that has always stood as both a warning, and a fact.  God calls us to do some important things, and he asks us to give…us. All of us.

Without Him, we can do nothing – nothing that matters, nothing that lasts. Think of ministries that fail, churches and heresies that have faded away. Without Him, they amounted to…nothing.

So, as we move through the next 49 days to Easter Sunday, we need to examine where we fit in all this, in how we can come closer to this model He presents in such a stark way as Holy Week plays out.   As I mentioned, we have a great Example, and we even have His Help!

He has chosen us, now we need to be sure to choose wisely.

Let us pray,
O GOD, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Quinquagesima

2. http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/meno.html

Charlie Niemi

Trinity Anglican Church Anglican Church in America Directions Anglican Church in America Diocese of the Northeast Traditional Anglican Communion Logos House of Theological Studies Home Page About Us Contact Us Directions Calendar Related Links Photos Selected Sermons