Over the past seven months I have had the honor of serving Preakness Valley United Reformed Church in Wayne, NJ as semi-regular pulpit supply. These dear brothers and sisters have been without a pastor for over a year now. I hurt for them in this difficult time, but I very much enjoy my visits to PVURC. I hope that I will still be able to visit occasionally, even after God blesses them with a permanent shepherd.
This Sunday evening, I’ll be preaching from Isaiah 5: “Where’s the Fruit?” If you are in north Jersey that evening and would like to stop by between 6-7pm, it would be great to see you at the service. I’ve given an excerpt of my sermon below, and the full audio will be posted here sometime next week, d.v.
[Isaiah] begins with a metaphor: a vineyard, planted and cultivated with care and patience. I visited the heart of wine-country in South Africa about a month ago—beautiful, beautiful countryside—and if you’ve ever been in a vineyard, you know how much care must be taken with the vines in order for them to produce both quantity and quality. The ground has to be plowed and fertilized. The vines need to be kept off the ground, watered, and pruned, for there to be any hope of a good harvest. Fences must be built to keep out trespassers, thieves and animals. Vineyards, and agriculture in general, take a lot of work up front, and of course a lot of faith that the rain, the ground and the sun will produce the desired result: perhaps a smooth, full-bodied wine.
So, we can feel the vinedresser’s frustration when he receives no usable yield for all his back-breaking labor. Metaphor has this wonderful ability to distance us from a situation, and illumining to us our own failures. In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan told a parable so persuasively that King David convicted himself of adultery and murder. Here, Isaiah’s audience feels a twinge of indignance toward the vineyard—before realizing that they themselves are the vineyard.
UPDATE: Audio is now posted here.