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Sunday Sermon – AiM Brenda Tibbetts

youaremine6th SUNDAY OF EASTER             May 10, 2015                                               Honor Grad Sunday/Baptism/Mother’s Day    

TEXTS: Acts 10:44-48; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:1, 4-5, 9-17

OPENING PRAYER:                                                                                                   “Speak, O Lord, as we come to you, to receive the food of Your Holy Word.   Take Your truth, plant it deep in us; Shape and fashion us in Your likeness.”                                                                           ( – Keith Getty, Stuart Townend)         Now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Strength, our Rock, and our Redeemer. Amen.

“BUT I CHOSE YOU”

Garrett, Tucker, Ryan, Rickey, Dylan and Sam; Erin (newly baptized); family and friends, grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace. Amen.

“I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus said to his disciples. He was preparing them for the next chapter in all of their lives. Jesus would soon be completing his earthly tasks and leaving them to carry on his mission. Jesus was sharing from his heart all the love he had so that they might hang onto his love, remember and claim his promises, especially when the journey became difficult and challenging.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.” In this “I AM” statement of Jesus, we hear echoes from the Old Testament. “I AM” – All that I will be, All that I am, All that you will ever need, the source of your love, my love the heartbeat of the universe…” I AM the vine that brings nourishment and support. And “you,” “you”, here is in the plural sense of the word – for a solo person can not be branches. In order to bear much fruit which is the love of God in Christ Jesus for the sake of the world, “you” as in all of us, need to remain connected to the vine of God’s love.

In John’s Gospel, the word Abide is huge. In fact, it shows up 44 times – from the Greek to the English it also translates as “staying, remaining, continuing.” John is making a very strong point here for all who hear this word. Abide encompasses the relationship God has in Jesus. Abide encompasses the role of the Spirit in binding covenant promises and building relationships; and, Abiding enables us to be the children of God through the water and the word, in the bread and in the wine.

In other words, to Abide means to continue in God’s love.

The Holy Spirit is given as a gift to abide with us, to walk alongside us as a promissory note if you will, that indeed, all of the covenant promises we receive in Jesus, are a done deal! As we have been grafted onto and continue to grow securely in the vine, we can freely move out, expanding in our love for God and in our love for one another. Love is the trademark fruit of truth when we abide in God’s love for us. Love is the source and fruit of our call to service.

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For Jesus then, and for parents now, there are last minute reminders. Lists of things to remember. Extra love shared because a new beginning is just around the corner. For any adult who has nurtured youngsters into young adulthood, you well understand the mixed emotions of preparing to send them out on their own into the world. This sending out also brings changes for you as well!

And yet, as we lift up and celebrate our High School Seniors getting ready to graduate, we know – and we want you to know – that you are not going out on your own by yourself. Jesus goes with you. And our prayers go with you as well, that you would remain connected to the vine. Even though distance may separate us, we remain connected to each other as we remain/abide connected with Jesus Christ.

It has been a privilege to have journeyed together, with you (plural), since many of you began 6th grade confirmation. We, (as your confirmation leaders, Sunday School teachers, Pastors, Youth Directors, parents and congregation) have sought to teach you and model for you some very important faith life skills such as prayer and praying for each other. Another life skill we have hoped to instill in you has been to show you how to find your way through the scripture, underlining verses of promise and comfort. So, when you are packing up your supplies for college, be sure to include your Bible! And don’t be afraid to open it up and read it! It is a way to remain/abide in God’s love.

We trust the Holy Spirit will continue to nurture the seeds of faith that have been planted in you. The Holy Spirit will also bring those things to your mind at the appropriate times offering hope and wisdom, challenge and comfort.

It has been a blessing to have traveled together to the seminary several times. We have seen that the Body of Christ, the Family of God, is not limited to this building or a specific pastor or even specific places or times. Jesus, the great I Am, the one true vine, is with you in all situations and in all places. It is our prayer that you would seek out friendships, campus ministries and congregations that would continue to nurture your growth in faith and continue to challenge you in your love and service to the world. Indeed, we have already witnessed you bearing fruit from these experiences!

[Hold up bag of Swedish Fish candies)

One of the favorite “rituals” or reminders of our journey in faith together has been the sharing of your “chosen” snack – Swedish Fish. (I wish you could see their faces right now!!!) That ritual has bonded you together in more than one way! J May it also remind you of the other nourishing meals we have shared together – particularly at the table for the Lord’s Supper. We all need this food of mercy and forgiveness in order to continue to grow in Christ’s love. Continue to seek to be fed at the Lord’s Table.

This morning we say, “Thanks be to God!” for new growth – for new chapters – for new branches abiding in God’s love:

+ TBTG! With Erin’s baptism, we celebrate and welcome her into the Lord’s family. We are excited that in Erin, a new tendril of Jesus’ love is growing and reaching out in love in her and through her!

+ TBTG! Seniors, we celebrate “you” (plural) with your upcoming high school graduation. There is new growth taking place even as the branches are maturing and are budding with the promise of bearing much fruit!

+ TBTG! For Our Savior’s – this congregation as a vineyard of branches, abiding in Christ and moving forward through a time of transition. New growth is taking place amid pruning and fertilizing. We celebrate with all of the branches which are budding and are bearing fruit through baptisms, graduations, the leadership provided by our Interim Pastor Loren, for volunteers serving on transition teams and on Call Committee ballots, council and staff, Ministry Teams and prayer warriors who pray for clarity of vision for mission; all of which is done for the sole purpose of bearing fruit and bringing honor and glory to God.

+ TBTG! That deep within the vineyard of this 15th chapter of John’s Gospel, there is a wonderful promise. It is for “you branches” (plural) as a reminder of God’s mercy and love for you. Write it on a post-it note and stick it in your wallet or on your bathroom mirror, or put it on the dashboard of your truck or car…be sure to underline it in your Bible. When those times of life come (and they will) where challenging storms rain havoc on the branches, or when you need reassurance of God’s love for you, repeat this verse to yourself: Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”     (John 15:16)

Go ahead. Say it aloud. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” What does it mean for you that Jesus chose you?!

Now, I want you to turn to your neighbor and say to them, “Jesus chose you.” What does this promise mean for your neighbor? And for you in your relationship with your neighbor knowing that Jesus has also chosen them?

Knowing we have been chosen by Jesus, together we can grow into the next chapter: knowing that we are loved, forgiven, and given a commandment that will shape our lives and that will make a difference in the world. “Love one another.” Jesus’ command fits in with whatever vocation or task God calls each of us to do.

“You did not choose me but I chose you,” said Jesus, “and I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

Let us pray.

“[May] the light of Christ be seen today,                                                                         In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.                                                           Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us, All Your purposes for Your glory.”                          ( – Keith Getty, Stuart Townend)                                                        

God’s blessings be with you all as we move forward in Jesus’ name. Amen.

– Brenda Tibbetts, Associate in Ministry

VBS June 8-12

“Called to Care” Vacation Bible Quest

June 8-12, 2015

Mon-Thurs 9 am to 3 pm; Fri 9 am-noon

Launch your summer with our Dr. Seuss-themed Vacation Bible School!

All students who just completed Kindergarten through Grade 6 are invited to join in the fun (and invite their friends)! Each day we will connect the theme from one of Dr. Seuss’s wonderful books with a great story from the Bible, plus we will have tons of games, crafts, and music to bring the message to life!

Register below!

Confirmation Lock-In Recap

21 students from Our Savior’s and Gethsemane (and friends!) gathered overnight at church last weekend for a great night of fun and games! After a candlelight service we got down to business playing Sardines and Wells Fargo, gathering around snacks of pizza and ice cream, and crafting tie-dye tiles, melted crayon paintings, and string and beaded bracelets. We ended the evening watching Big Hero 6 on the big screen, and we awoke in the morning to a delicious breakfast of eggs and fruit from the LeBeques! Thank you to the parents who donated snacks and provided transportation to and from the church, the kids who invited their friends, and to the volunteers who donated their time and energy as adult leaders throughout the night!

“Ah Holy Jesus”

Join us this Sunday, March 22 for a special Passion Drama at worship. The Sr. High students have been working with Pastor Loren over the several weeks to put the production together. You won’t want to miss it!

Luther Sem Trip Spring 2015

8 youth and 6 adults journeyed south for another great session at Luther Seminary! Thank you to Dr. Baretto and Dr. Chan for leading great classes and to all the participants for sharing your joy and great spirits! We had so much fun, whether we were touring the campus and listening in class, gathered around a delicious meal or playing Scattergories back at the hotel. We hope you can join us again next year! Click here to view more photos from the trip!

YFM Tubing Time

We had so much fun at Giant’s Ridge after church on Sunday! 19 kids, parents, and a grandparents met us at the slopes for an afternoon of tubing. Click here to see more photos from this awesome event!

Through events like these we strengthen the bonds of friendship between students from different schools and grade levels, building a foundation of trust and love for future faith conversations. We ended the afternoon with a challenge: how might tubing be like our own faith journey?

Thank you to the kids who brought such fun attitudes to the day and to the parents and grandparents who provided transportation, snacks, and support. We hope you’ll be able to join us again next year!

Souper Bowl of Caring

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” -Matthew 25:35

Last Sunday 1,541 churches and youth groups across the nation raised more than $3,077,302 in cash and food items to tackle hunger in our communities, country, and around the world in the Souper Bowl of Caring! Here at Our Savior’s the Patriots pot defeated the Seahawks pot, but really everyone won as $217.82 was collected for the Quad Cities Area Food Shelf!

Then the positive energy and generous spirit continued into the fellowship hall as everyone sat down for a lunch of chili and baked potatoes, a fundraiser to send youth to camp and on a Voyageurs Canoe Country trip in the Boundary Waters this summer.  In total $372 was raised in the Chili/Baked Potato Fundraiser.

Thank you to the whole congregation for joining us in the Souper Bowl of Caring and at lunch together!

Mardi Gras 2015

mardi gras
Click the collage above to view more photos from this wonderful event!

66 people (including 12 kids!) joined us for a wonderful “island” evening! Each ministry team did a wonderful job decorating their booth and all the food was fantastic! We had a hula hoop contest, decorated sailor hats, did the limbo, and played great games. Thank you to everyone who made food, set the scene with decorations and costumes, and joined in the fun!

Giants Ridge Tubing Feb. 8

Giants Ridge Tubing Trip – Sun, Feb. 8, 12:00-2 pm.

All are welcome! Invite your friends!

Contact Meagan at the church office or email meagan@oslcmn.com by Thursday, Feb. 25 to sign up!

Sponsored by the Youth and Family Ministry Team.

Suggested donation: $6/person or $20/family to help offset the costs.

Rooted in Faith

Growing in Christ

Reaching to Serve