“Rooted & Grounded in Love”

Ephesians 3: 14-21, November 14th, 2021

Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard

Read Statement of Faith


“Hear now this ancient prayer form the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter four, verses fourteen thru twenty-one.”

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 

16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love

18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

Amen.

“Having listen to this heart-felt prayer, let us consider how today’s message can enhance our own faith journeys.”

“Rooted & Grounded in Love”

Our scripture today, appears to be a prayer written by a follower of Christ that is grateful for the love of God; so much so that our author speaks of being rooted in the love of God! (Ephesians 317b) However we view this writing, as a prayer, as a short exhortation on how the indwelling of the love of Christ, through the Spirit of Christ, empowers and strengthens us for the works which we are being led to, however we view this passage, we are being pointed toward this phrase “rooted and grounded in love” as a primary focal point!  This being so, we may wish to explore this phrase for its “root” value!  Where exactly did it all begin, what is its source and why is it so very important for us to focus on it.  Surely, at first glance this is all about being grounded in the fundementals of faith, in trust and in coming to know and believe in the teachings of Jesus.  This having been said, since it is so obvious to so many, so many who are truly on the pathways of knowing God more fully, why do we need lessons like this one to keep reminding us?  The most basic response to this is that we are only human, whereas Jesus was also divine.  We, therefore, unlike The Holy One, the Son of God, we need to be reminded that we are to ‘root’ and ‘ground’ ourselves in the love of God.

At this point, let us take a breath, and be sure we are all on the same level of understanding regarding this being ‘rooted’ in something, as it so important we ‘all’ fully grasp this.  The easiest way to grasp this is to use a simple parallel analogy.  My wife and I were given a small tree to plant last year.  When our friend brought it to us it was not in anything, no dirt, no water.  She carefully planted it in the ground for us.  Saying to water it daily for at least a month.  As I reflect back on that tree’s beginning, it had been uprooted from where it was growing and was forced to adapt to a dramatic change, a new location and had to count on its new environment to help it reestablish its base, its roots!  The small tree was in shock for sure, as it dropped leaves and then its branches over the ensuing weeks.  We watered it every day.  The upper portions of the tree dried up and eventually broke off.  We continued to water what was left of the tree. For a number of months, it seemed like our efforts to keep it alive were dwindling.  Our friend said, just keep watering it about twice a week.  We did.  The season changed and changed again.  Summer came and there were signs of life.  Eventually it began to grow.  Why?  Because of its roots.  It had and it was rooting itself into the warm moist nourishment of Mother Earth.  Its roots held on and anchored it to its life source.  The sun shinned upon it and the rains fell upon it; and its roots began to flourish and grow.  It is six feet tall now.  A couple inches in diameter at its base, green leaves growing from its branches.  It all begins at the root!  That tree had rooted itself.  We need to ensure our roots our nourished and grounded in God’s love.

God’s Love begins at the root, the heart of our Creator’s very core.  A core that seems to be the essence of pure everlasting and abundant love!  Here we are at the midpoint of November in the year two-thousand and twenty-one.  A month that is recognized by millions as the time of harvest to pick the fruits of the plants which have been rooted in the richness of Mother Earth’s nourishment!  Rooted in all that every plant needs.  The warmth of the sun, combined with the nourishment which the rains bring; and a farmer who keeps the weeds and critters away so that the plants shall grow and bear fruit.  Is this not what our Creator God has done for us?  In this simplistic illustration we have outlined the basics, the core of our relationship with the forces of nature, the grounding of our understanding of the Creator, the Deity which overseas our place within the full realm of creation itself!  This morning I endeavored to give a simple children’s sermonette to express this analogy in a manner even a child could grasp.  A follow-up to this example would be to start with a seed or a seedling, pointing out how dependent it is to its overseer, the farmer, the caretaker of the new planted seedlings.  If I were still talking with the children I would appoint them, impower them to be the caretaker over the needs of the new plant.  Then at the appropriate point, either send it home with them, or work with this forward moving lesson in some acceptable fashion.  There would be many follow-up conversations and lessons as the lesson of the new seedling has only just begun.  Lesson number one is simply about helping to establish the roots in fertile soil and acknowledge the need to have a caretaker to ensure its opportunity to grow.

In the lives of every child of God, every seedling that enters this creation which we are all a part of, we know that not all ground is fertile, and we know that all caretakers of new budding offspring are not equipped with what it takes to help the next generation cultivate good roots, roots that will last through proper nourishment, thereby, enabling proper growth.  Before we, you, and me, before we can begin to properly equip and prepare the next generations, we must first be sure we are properly rooted ourselves.  Surely this is what our author of this lesson was seeking to establish or reestablish for all who heard or read this passage.  Today, we have all had the opportunity to hear the words of this writing – as it was read aloud for us.  Our lesson today wants to strengthen our faith by reassuring us that the love of God is the basis, the very essence of growth into maturity as followers of Christ. Listen again to verses sixteen and seventeen of our lesson from Ephesians three. “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, (Christ’s glory), he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”  It takes faith to fully grasp this lesson!

We need to trust in God’s love… if we are to be fully rooted in all that the love of God offers to us.  If we are cut off from God’s love, we will surely dwindle until we become less and less service to God and to others. Disconnected from the source of the strength of the Spirit of Christ we shall lose our effectiveness and loss our source of power and strength.  When we stop believing, in the nourishment that is available for our journey of faith, we shall ultimately dwindle and fall thereby losing our way until we are lost.  Our writing this morning is meant to reassure us of the steadfast love our our Creator, which nourishes our faith, as we seek to find our way in the light of day and through the darkness of night.  Receiving God’s love is the way forward.  When we grasp onto the fundamentals, we shall find our strength through the roots of faith which can even seemingly ‘regenerate’ with even the smallest rekindling of humble gratitude for all that Christ has offered us.

Reverend Alan Brehm offers us his thoughts on today’s scripture lesson and how we can and perhaps ought to proceed.  “It is in the community of faith that we experience the love of God.  We enjoy this mysterious internal relationship with God as we support and encourage and love one another, as we are “grounded” in the love of God.”  We see this every day in our faith community.  This past Thursday I had lunch with a dozen of our members and friends of our congregation.  Several I have not seen in a long time.  It was a wonderful, loving, and meaningful gathering.  We talked and shared with one another.  We even shared a short prayer, a blessing of our gathering.  In so doing we invoked the presence of our Living God.  We each ordered some food to eat and as we talked and ate together one could feel the love in the air.  Friendship and common themes of interest made the gathering very special.  I was glad that I was encouraged to join with the group.  It had been a long time since the last time I had joined them.  The gathering was only one example of how our common grounding in the love of God – enhances our faith journeys.  Also, on Wednesday evening we had the first gathering of our choir and our entire musical staff in a long time.  We even had three new talented folks, who also share a love for good worshipful music, join the gathering.  I meet with each, privately and chatted with our Music Director at length as we discussed, with joy and optimism, the new budding possibilities for our music program… as we look to be ‘reborn’ after a long hiatus away from our active musical programs… back before the shut down due to the pandemic.  It is exciting to realize that there is new hope, new visions and new possibilities being discussed as we once again learn how to praise God with our voices – as a faith filled community.   

Our ‘rooted love’ as a community will not allow me to pass by the opportunity to Praise our Music Director, and our Lead Musician, and our On-Line-Ministry staff, who have done such a ‘great job’ gathering talented voices that were videotaped, and musicians who have recorded music – during this past year and a half.  We are so grateful to their voices, their music, and their dedication to contributing in such unique, and creative ways.  Out of gratitude… we share God’s love for the ministries that ‘they’ and ‘together’ we represent!  We also give thanks for the grounded ‘trust’ and ‘faith’ which has been displayed by so many as we, through so many special ways, have endeavored to bring ourselves together to offer up our communal praise and gratitude to our Holy God.  Let us always display a thankfulness for our Mystical and Loving God; made known to us through the scriptures, the Living Spirit of Christ, and the abundant love of our Creator God!  Thank you one and all; and most especially thank you God!

Amen.

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