Dear Seekers, Excursionists, Transmigrants, Expedionists, Family Members, and Friends:
On this beautiful Oregon day, we are making our way to Pentecost, as we walk and move slowly to the next "mile marker" of Eastertide: the fifth Sunday of the season. It seems like only yesterday when we sang "Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia!" around the electric piano, and then having breakfast together on a cool Easter morning.
The focus Scripture this Sunday is a wine-lover's favorite: John 15:1-8. In this week's reading, the Gospel writer John uses an often used image of a grape vine and its branches to help and challenge the earlier community he was writing to, helping them to understand and claim their closer relationship with Jesus. A vine and its branches is an image commonly used in Hebrew Scriptures to describe Israel's relationship with Yahweh. In Portland, Oregon, we are surrounded by vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley. We are well aware of the story of Melissa and Ken's growing vineyard, fire, and re-birth in California, Lorinda and Ray's daughter and son-in-law. The pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago de Compostela, is well-known for incredible red wines to be supped along the way. Currently the French movie, "Back in Burgundy" (Living Room Theater), set in a French vineyard, looks at the intricate nature of being family, like vine, branches, and grapes. The movie reminds us of the art of wine growing, where to cut the grapes on the vine, when vines are cut back, when grapes should be picked, the craft of de-stemming the grapes, the art of tasting and smelling good wines, and the way branches wind and wind around each other, creating an intricate pattern of tight curls that make it impossible to tell where one branch starts or another one ends. It isn't just intricate: it's intimate, and the vine shares with its branches the nutrients that keep it growing, and is the life force of the whole plant. I have come to understand that the best grapes are those that grow close to the vine, where the food, the nutrients, are most concentrated. So let us learn from Brother Jesus who said: "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." Sisters and brothers--branches all of the true vine--let us gather together this Sunday, 4-6 pm!
We're in the news: Cascade Connections--the Presbytery of the Cascades weekly newsletter--included news of our Fellowship! Please share with others and invite others to join us. Here's the link:
Our schedule for the next few weeks:
Tue., May 1, meet up at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church for the OR Symphony-related free concert; 7:30 pm.
Sun., May 6, meet at Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church, packing food for Human Solutions.
Saturday, May 12, Sacred Flight Concert, 4 pm, Rose City Park Presbyterian Church (Chris is narrating);
Sat., May 19, Meeting and dinner with all ASL interpreters at Tom and Lee's House...red wine will be poured.
Sunday, May 20-21, Tom Letts church coach visit;
Sunday, May 20, Morning worship at Rose City Park, 10 am, Pentecost; sharing with Rose City Park stories of Community of Pilgrims;
Sunday, May 20: Kathy's baptism;
Fri. and Sat., June 29-30, Presbytery meeting in Salem, OR.
And finally, a poem:
Today, by Billy Collins:
If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Pastors Brett & Chris