Jesus the Vine (11-07-20)
Bible Reading: John 15:1-2, 5-8
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. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
We bought a number of fruit bushes last autumn and planted them in the garden. All but two, both raspberries, have fruited this year. The crops have been small because the plants are small. In time, with a bit of care and nurturing they will produce bigger crops. To do so they will all need pruning, and the method of pruning will be different for the different types of plants.
The unfruitful raspberries have already gone, the remaining raspberries will fruit next year on this year’s new growth, so the old wood will be cut out. The blackcurrants, on the other hand, fruit on next year’s growth, so they will be pruned back to allow plenty of new growth next year.
Pruning a healthy plant may seem drastic, but it is vital for ensuring good and healthy crops in the future. Pruning alone, though, will not guarantee more fruit, the branches of the fruit bushes must remain attached to the main plant in order to receive the nourishment and support they need for life and fruitfulness, and the plant must remain rooted in the ground.
It seems to me that, in the last few months, the church has gone through a severe time of pruning and of cutting out of the dead wood. In the absence of services in our buildings we have realised that the church is not the building, but the people. We have missed our weekly gatherings, but we have gathered virtually and prayerfully, we have built up new relationships with our neighbours and with our communities, and maybe we have learnt to depend again on our God, who has remained faithful throughout. All of this is part of the ‘remain in me’ which Jesus says will lead us into fruitfulness.
So, as we slowly emerge into a new season in the life of the church, let us not try to produce fruit on last year’s dead wood, but let us nurture all the new growth that has emerged this year, and let us look for a new and abundant harvest in the months and years to come.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you have nourished and sustained me through the troubles and trials of life. Help me to remain faithful to you and to look forwards to all that you have for me and for your church as we emerge into a new future.