Fruitful Opening for 2018 Pitman Camp Meeting (6/24/18)

Posted by on Jun 25, 2018 in EventReport, Pitman Camp Meeting, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

There are a lot of great things about the summer: the Water Ice Station, Yogo Factory, Ocean City, Phillies, Alcyon Lake Park.  And, for those  who want to cap off their Sundays with an evening worship, there’s the Pitman Camp Meeting.  Refreshments and recreation are great, but there’s something about getting into the outdoor feeling and worshiping God.  There’s something necessary about wrapping up the sabbath by reconnecting with God.

This tradition has predated most of our more familiar summer destinations; this is the 148th annual Pitman Camp Meeting.

The 2018 Camp Meeting opened on the evening of Sunday June 24 with a hymn sing, followed by music presented by PUMC’s Chris Valianti.  Jennifer Andrade added visual life to the message by signing Chris’ words. 

Chris and Jennifer presented three songs:

  1. Word of God Speak
  2. Glorious Day
  3. Voice of Truth



After the music, Rev. Gary Turk gave an inspirational message on John 15:1-8.  It was a familiar passage, but somehow we get so busy trying to hold on to our busy schedule that we forget that the thing we really need to hold on to is the “Vine.”  We’re like branches that will fade away unless we remain connected to the Vine. 

Here’s the passage that Rev. Turk preached on:

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.  But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!  When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.



Rev. Turk opened his message by relating a recent experience he and his wife had during a vacation to Napa Valley California.  They had a chance to wander through a vineyard and see rows and rows of grape vines.  There’s an order to these vineyards.  The vines are planted in rows, and every few feet a post is driven into the ground.  Rows of wires connect each of these posts, and the branches from the vines wrap themselves around these wires to support the weight of the clusters of grapes.

Vineyards like this aren’t anything new.  The method of growing grape vines hasn’t changed over the centuries; they grew grapes in much the same way back in Jesus’ time.  So when Jesus used the example of vines, branches, and grapes, his audience knew exactly what He was talking about.

In fact, even before the Israelites reached the Promised Land during the exodus, they understood something about the grapes when the spies returned with a huge cluster of them after exploring the promised land. 

And the analogy of vines and branches wasn’t new to Jesus’ listeners either.

Psalm 80:7-9  You brought us from Egypt like a grapevine; you drove away the pagan nations and transplanted us into your land.  You cleared the ground for us, and we took root and filled the land.
Jeremiah 2:21 But I was the one who planted you, choosing a vine of the purest stock—the very best. How did you grow into this corrupt wild vine?
Ezekiel 17:5-6  He also took a seedling from the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside a broad river, where it could grow like a willow tree.  It took root there and grew into a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned up toward the eagle, and its roots grew down into the ground. It produced strong branches and put out shoots.
Hosea 14:7  My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.
Zecheriah 8:11-13  “But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings.

The Old Testament prophets often referred to Israel as a vine that God had planted.  But something went wrong.  The people got intertwined with the wild vines and weeds by worshiping the “gods” of the people they were to displace.  The vines were defective, so God promised to plant a new Vine which would restore the people’s peace and make them truly fruitful.


Jesus is the True Vine

Jesus enters the Israel that’s been entangled with weeds, and then He claims to be the true Vine… “I AM the Vine.” 

Jesus is the Vine in this parable; He is the source of life and nutrients for the branches.  The branches draw their life from the vine.

And He’s the real vine; there are a  lot of counterfeit “vines” out there: money, lust, false leaders.  Jesus warned about false leaders in Matthew 24:4-5…

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you,  for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’

They will deceive many.

Don’t fall  for the counterfeit vines; Israel did.  Hosea 10:1-2 describes how Israel attached itself to other “vines” by building altars to false gods; they were prosperous, but then they chose to empty themselves of the True Vine which God gave them…

Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself.
As his fruit increased, he built more altars;
as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones.
Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt.
The Lord will demolish their altars and destroy their sacred stones.




We are the Branches

The second clear point from this passage is that JESUS is the vine; we’re not!  We can’t produce life.  We are the branches.  We draw life from the Vine.  Separated from the Vine we will whither up and die.

To be a branch, you must have a relationship with Jesus.  Abide in the scripture.  Pray without ceasing.  Look for the good and beauty that’s in the world and turn it back to God.  Give God thanks for all of the good that we draw from Him, and use God’s gifts to obey and to love.

Whoever has the Son has life.

Are you drawing your life from Jesus every day???

This opening Sunday of the Pitman Camp Meeting reminded us to take advantage of every opportunity that the Vine gives us.


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