The Rev. Jon Roberts
Calvary Episcopal Church
Indian Rocks Beach, FL
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
Christ, the True Vine, Greek orthodox icon,
16th C., Byzantine & Christian Museum, Greece
When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.
From the east to the west, the north to the south, the only way to abide in the way, the truth and the life is to abide in... “Da-Man”, Jesus Christ, who is also “Da-Vine.”
Long ago on the sandlot of life, perhaps mostly heard in the masculine sense of boys who enjoyed praising those who had noteworthy accomplishments. They could shoot a basketball from half court and make it go in, “You Da-Man!” they would say. You got out of doing extra clean up chores from the teacher because you were the A+ student of the week, “You Da-Man!” Perhaps the prettiest girl said ‘yes’ to a date you asked her out, “You Da-Man!” Yes, there were many examples. Translate to adults. Maybe a person shares they climbed Mt. Everest, and you might find yourself saying, “You Da-Man!” Someone boasts about retiring early from good investments, in their fifties? “They Da-Man.” Maybe a person worked really hard at getting into shape and lost fifty pounds. “They Da-Man!” It could be modern day slang, but the truth is, we give praise where praise is due.
A lot of times we give praise to someone who is able to overcome and triumph over a great challenge. In the Prussian Empire of the 19th century, the first recorded use of this saying came from a iron-fisted conservative, who believed strongly in God and Country, going together and overcoming the lasse faire, subtle take over from years of progressive liberalism. In the southern regions of Germany, liberalism made no reference to the Almighty, and for a place that was the soil of the Reformation, it was Otto von Bismarck who decided to right the ship. His reputation was legendary, putting the nation first, and calling upon God to lead them to strength and victory. No wonder why a few years later, after his death, the country named an unsinkable battleship after him. He referred to one particular person he heralded as, “Da-Mann.”
Today, if we want to really abide in the truth of Jesus Christ we must give him praise in the great assembly for truly being “Da-Man” who came into this world to save sinners. Kingship belongs to the Lord, where all the ends of the Earth will turn to him. From the east to the west, the north to the south, we are one him because he is also, “Da-vine.” “Da-Man” who was also “Da-Vine” is worthy of praise for what he accomplished. Not with an iron fist, but with an open heart. Countless people would come to know Christ through others who acclaimed him. Phillip, in his travels towards southern Africa was met by an Ethiopian eunuch, reading from a copy of the scroll of Isaiah. He read about Jesus and wanted to know more about “Da-Man” and further, asked if Philip could baptize him in the name of Christ. All the way down there in the south, people were hearing about “Da-Man.”
What about John the Evangelist? He wrote so many letters, as in his first letter, he says, “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. We already know the truth about God’s Son, Jesus. We see what he did on Calvary and rose victorious from the grave. He is “Da-Man.” If we abide in God’s love, through God’s son, then we abide in him.
This brings us to the parable of the true vine in our Gospel today. Jesus is telling his disciples that he is the vine and if they do not abide in him, they are cut off, lose hope and are consumed in the fire. Like the branches on a tree, people need to be strengthened by the roots underneath. Roots must dig deep and bring water and nutrients to those branches but they must be part of the vine. Jesus, “Da-Man” is able to speak, heal and provide for those who seek him because he is “Da-Vine.” A direct link from the Father who gives light, to the Son who is the Vine, to the people who are the branches is the way, the truth and the life.
If you’ve ever been to a vineyard, notice the trellis, the line that gives something for the branches to grow. This is God’s Word and God’s Church. Through Word and Sacrament, we see the importance of what we are intended to grow upon. If we lose this structure, our branches cannot grow. Why do we not see this? Why does the human economy, tossing to and from, politically and with such wasteful priorities, appear like branches being challenged to abide in the vine? We blow around in the wind of liberal and conservative rulers and governments, but where do we truly put our trust? Do we invoke the name of God, of Christ, but do not abide in Him? We can put a cross on our door or around our necks but that makes us no more of a Christian if we live by fear, rather than by love. Dig deep. Pull up. Stretch out. For love of the other, bring them into this source. For if you abide in me, says Jesus, “Da-Man,” then you will see “Da-Vine.”
 Otto von Bismarck
 Psalm 22:24
 1982 Hymnal, “In Christ there is no East or West”, #529.
 1 John 4:7-21
 John 15:1-8