Bearing Fruit (26-10-22)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 67:3-4
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
Bible Reading: John 15:1-4
Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
Successful pruning of plants is an art. I’m not sure I have it. When to prune is the first question. Most flowering and fruiting plants need pruning after they have finished flowering or fruiting, but apparently plum trees and the like are a bit more tricky and some plants must be pruned in the spring regardless of when they flower. And then there is how much to prune. Fruit bushes and shrubs all seem to have different requirements and getting it wrong can be a problem. I once pruned a very rampant Lavatera that took offence and never grew back. There is clearly a difference between pruning and lopping.
In our reading Jesus tells us that he is the true vine and we are the branches. The image here is of a grape vine with branches grafted into it so that the life of the true vine flows through the branches to nourish it and to produce fruit. There are other vines that we could be grafted onto that are not of God. The life that would then flow through the branches would not produce fruit that would glorify God. Let us make sure we remain grafted into the true vine.
God, Jesus then says, is the gardener. I am sure that he knows what he is doing. He knows the difference between pruning and lopping. The point of pruning is to get more fruit and flowers the following year. There will no doubt be times in all of our lives where we have been fruitful for God. I wonder what they are and how prepared we are for God to come along with his pruning shears so that we might be even more fruitful for him.
There are also branches that God cuts off the vine because they are no longer fruitful; they need to make room for the fruitful branches to grow.
Fruitfulness can be measured in many ways, not least in mission, in Christian character, in acts of service and in prayer and worship. I wonder if there are things in our lives or in our churches that are not fruitful for God, things that we need to allow him to remove in order to make room for the things that will bear fruit.
Lord Jesus, show me the areas in my life where I can be more fruitful for you, and give me the grace to allow you to prune the fruitful branches and to remove those that are no longer fruitful. Amen
You are the vine, we are the branches.