Man is a hungry being.  But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for him.

-Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

-John 15:5

Awe-inspiring beauty, local-sustainable culture, and a green ethic that makes Thoreau look irresponsible. Deep-seated cynicism, vast economic disparity, and empty material joy that promises much but delivers little.  Whether you feel stuck in Vermont or lucky to live here, this is a place of stark contrasts. There is much to love and much to long for, but a solid hope to receive and bear all this love and longing eludes us.

In the gospel of John, Jesus makes a radical (read: root) claim to be the vine apart from whom we can do nothing, the Life outside of which we remain lifeless. As divisive as this claim is and must be, there is something deeply uniting in it as well:  here is God bringing beauty to touch brokenness, cultivation to curb decay, a feast to end both physical and spiritual famine. Here is hope that finally delivers on its promises. “Apart from me you can do nothing,” but united to Jesus by faith, the church serves as His hands and feet to bring life to a dying world.

We worship on the first day of the week to celebrate all this and be renewed in Christ’s love and service toward us, because our love is weak and our capacity for self-involvement is strong. We open our homes and our lives in radical hospitality because although we were estranged from God, we’ve received a lost child’s welcome home from a Father beside himself with joy. We bring fellowship around a dinner table to those who have neither food nor friends, because God laid down his life to turn his enemies into his loved ones. And we forgive, love and serve our neighbors, our city and one another (not perfectly, always clinging to grace and attempting to laugh off self-righteousness–we know our hearts too well) because Christ does all that and exceedingly more for us. The Vermont Project exists to see a gospel-shaped church like this planted in Burlington and to nurture a movement to plant more like it throughout Vermont.