What drives you to give in life? Let’s make a list of all of the inspirations that motivates us to Christ’s work. For me, I have been involved in churches my whole life and in the course of that time I have had several motivating factors that have kept me involved in the different functions of the church. As a young child, my motivation was pure and simple. I loved the music and I loved the toys at church. It was where I wanted to be on a Sunday morning. As I grew older, that motivation changed. In the third and fourth grade, I remember hating Sunday school. It was our task to memorize the 23rd Psalm as it appeared in the King James Version of the Bible.
I was never very good at memorization and even today my memory isn’t what it should be. So what motivated me to continue in the children’s activities of the church was being forced to by my mother. Once I graduated to the next class, I loved church again. We would have messy art projects, we got to act out the scriptures for other classes and most importantly we got to verse the younger class in Bible trivia and try to beat each other in our knowledge of the Bible. Years went by and I began to assist in the classrooms and I became involved in the choir. There were Sunday’s as a teenager, where I would have much rather slept over a friend’s house or slept in to my normal 11:30 in the morning. But I didn’t because I felt inspired to God’s work in the church.
There were children and families counting on me. There was a choir counting on my voice and I felt what I did really mattered to the people and to God. God was my inspiration. I felt the Holy Spirit alive in me calling me to share my talents in a way that would help others. And to this day, this is still what my inspiration is when I do any work in a church or in a community. I am spreading the compassion and love of Christ through the works of my hands and the words of my mouth. I try to live my life as Christ has called me to do.
Everything in our lives should be touched by the Holy Spirit. Everything we do in life whether it is at work, church or home should reflect the values and beliefs that bring us together in worship and praise every Sunday. Inspiration, it is what drives us, what motivates us to be more and do more. For some people it is our families, our careers, the people’s lives that we touch.
My cousin is a nurse for life star, not an easy job. And my mother asked her one time how she could handle what she sees day in and day out. Her response was that sometimes she is the last face, and her voice is the last voice that some will hear and she feels proud to be that person to shepherd them into the next world when needed. Sometimes it is the people whose lives that we touch. My cousin is not a church goer. She really wasn’t raised with any real connection to any church. Her children are only baptized by me in her home.
But her inspiration is the Holy Spirit even though she may not recognize it. Anytime we work for the care and compassion of someone else we are doing so with the inspiration of God. Every time we put someone else’s needs before our own, we are living an inspired life even though we may not always recognize it out right. When we live into the teachings of Christ we are opening ourselves to his spirit and we are opening an opportunity for someone else to experience that inspiration for themselves.
Inspiration is anything, good or bad that motivates us in life. But we can chose to let that inspiration be more meaningful. We can choose to have our actions be guided by the commandments of Jesus. Our scriptures from John spend a lot of time on the imagery of the vineyard. This would have been easily understood by those who heard this story because most people were agriculturalists and thus understood these types of parables. But for those of us who don’t regularly grow vineyards this can be a difficult parable to derive meaning from.
This parable is about the love of God. It is about how God lovingly prunes and cares for his people. It is about how a life based in the teachings of Christ is one that helps to develop our relationship with God. It calls us and challenges us to live a life guided by Christ’s teachings. Christ showed compassion, care and great love for the people he met in life. This is the type of love we are being called to in our lives. And when Jesus says, “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”. He is asking us to trust in him, to make his life and teachings the basis for which we make decisions. We are being called to live a Christ centered life. This means that we are being challenged to love one another, open ourselves to others for forgiveness and to offer forgiveness to one another. This means we need to accept one another into the family of Christ by caring for them, by offering the hand of fellowship. So as we prepare for yet another week, we are being called to focus our lives upon the love of Christ to abide in him and to allow for him to abide in us in all that we do. So this morning I leave you with a set of questions to contemplate throughout the week, “Have we lived a Christ focused day and what would it take for us to do this? What does this look like for us?” Remember it doesn’t have to be hard to center our lives on Christ, it could simply be being more open and compassionate to others peoples.
(based on John 15: 1-8)