Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I am the Vine, and Ye are the Branches

I just got back from a devotional at my church where Camille Fronk Olson
spoke with the women in my stake and I had to write down what I learned.  I felt so cleansed and edified by the things that I learned, and I know I won't be as articulate as this amazing woman was, but I will try my hardest to convey what I learned tonight.

Camille opened with a scripture from John 15:1, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husband-man."  She then began to read an excerpt from a book. I am not sure the book or the author, but the quote went more or less like this, "If you did not grow up in wine country, you probably are under the assumption that the vine is what grows along the trellis.  That is not actually true, the vine is the trunk from which all of those branches grow.  New branches tend to grow toward the ground, which is problematic as the leaves become dusty.  When it rains, they get muddy and start to mold and die."  Someone then asked the man, "What do you do with those branches?  Just cut them off and throw them away?"  He replied, "Oh, no.  That branch is much to valuable to be tossed aside. The keeper of the vineyard, or the husband-man goes through his vineyard and washes those branches one by one.  He then Ties them up along the trellis and once they have been re-positioned higher, they flourish."
Back to John 15:5 it says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Just as a branch that is cut off from the vine would wither up and die and produce no fruit, so it is the same with us.  Christ is the Vine, and we are the branches, and our Heavenly Father is the husbandman.

It is believed that the Atonement is only mentioned once in the New Testament, but that is not so.  It is mentioned multiple times with words that are synonyms to the Atonement.  We did some Etymology for the word and broke it down.  Atonement comes from the Hebrew word, Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the year in Judaism.  Yom means day and Kippur, comes from a root that means, to atone. Another meaning for the word Atonement is Reconciliation, which is the word that is written in the New Testament over and over again. Reconciliation broken down comes from the latin words re which means again and conciliar which means bring together.  We have another word in the english language that comes from the root word Conciliar, and I can't remember what it is called, so if anyone knows please comment so I can get it right, but it is the same thing as what we call stitches.  When we get stitches, the doctor is mending us and bringing us back together. The word reconciliation means to bring together again.  That is what the atonement does, it brings us back to Christ again.  I thought that was so interesting.  It helped me understand the Atonement on another level.

We spoke of the last supper and some things that took place that I never understood completely until today.  In John's account of the last supper (chapter 13 if you wish to read it), it takes place the day before passover.  Families have to do things in preparation for the Passover, and one of those things that they needed was a Lamb.  Christ is literally hanging on the cross as Lambs are being slaughtered (in a very specific and symbolic way) all over Jerusalem for Passover.  The evening before passover at the Last Supper, he arose from supper and laid his clothes aside.  He then took a towel and girded himself.  This is when he began to wash his disciples feet and he wiped them with the towel that was covering him.  This is incredibly symbolic, and I didn't pick up on that until now.  As he is cleansing the feet of his disciples and wiping them on his own covering, it is showing that he is taking upon himself their sins.  Their dirtiest part of their bodies, he is willingly washing clean, and wiping that dirt upon himself. Peter is uncomfortable with this because feet were viewed as the dirtiest part of the human body, and only the lowest of the low wash peoples feet.  Peter exclaims, "Thou Shalt never wash my feet..." to which the Lord replies, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."  Then Peter gets it, and replies, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."  I thought this insight was mind blowing because here we are, expected to do the same thing.  We are supposed to offer up the dirtiest parts of ourselves and let the lord cleanse us.  It is extremely interesting because in this example, it is their feet.  Either the lowest of the low did it for you, or you did it yourself.  Peter may have been uncomfortable and thought that he could do it himself.  That is the thing about the atonement.  We cannot do it ourselves.  We need the Savior to cleanse us, and we need his Atonement or we cannot and will not make it back to our Heavenly Father.

There is a picture of Christ speaking with a woman at the well.  When I looked at that picture I used to think that the woman at the well must be so incredibly righteous to be conversing with the savior like that. Tonight, I learned a little bit about the woman at the well.  She was a Samaritan.  She was also not who we might have originally pictured.  She had had 5 husbands, and the man that she was currently living with was not her husband.  That was extremely looked down upon in that day and age and in her civilization.  Now, the scripture says that this woman went down to the well at the 6th hour.  They counted time by when the sun rose, so that is probably around noon.  Getting water was considered women's work, so every day women went to fetch water at the well.  If I were to go get water each day, I would probably try to go first thing in the morning when it is cooler outside.  What time would be the worst time to go and get water?  Probably the middle of the day, around noon.  Why would this woman be going to get water at such a time?  Could it be to avoid other women?  To not be seen?  Probably so.  It was no coincidence that this is where she runs into Christ who then teaches her about the living water and introduces himself for the first time in recorded History as the Messiah.  This woman listened to him at the well, and she heeded his words.  She went forth and helped many of her people come to know their savior and messiah, Jesus Christ.  An unlikely missionary?  No, because she was willing to not only listen to the Lord, but to put his words into action.  Isn't this picture so much more interesting and deep now that we understand a little bit more of her back story?

There are so many more examples like this, and I am just feeling so inspired.  There is enough room in God's family for everyone.  It doesn't matter where we come from, what kind of sins we have committed, or anything else under the sun.  Satan wants us to believe we can't return to our Father in Heaven, and that is not true.  If we listen to the lord and heed his words, and allow him to cleanse us of our sins, there is room in his family for all of us, and what's even more incredible is that he wants us in his eternal family so badly that he created a plan for us to get there, and he sent his son so that we could return to him.  I know these things to be true, as the spirit has touched my heart and these words have resonated with my soul.  I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ, and I know that he lives and loves me.  I know that I can return to my Father in Heaven if I obey his words and trust in him.  I know I am a literal spirit daughter of God and that Jesus Christ is my literal brother and that he atoned for my sins, and for yours.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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