John 15:1-8 (CEV)
Jesus said to his disciples:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit. But he trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of what I have said to you.
Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don't stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.
Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered. When you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored.
1. Imagery is always an intriguing way of speaking. Gardner GOD watches the health of Vine Jesus by pruning Branch You and Branch Me me. So here we are, unable to go off on our own and caught between the sun and air of our environment and the water and nutrients brought internally through the vine. This is the big picture.
2. The personal picture indicates that we are already clean because of the teachings or nutrients of borne by Jesus. One of those teachings shows up in another reading for the day, 1 John 4:7-21, which calls us to love each other. This love of each other may be another way of speaking of the fruit of our lives. We are either sweet with love for others overflowing our cup or dried up by withholding it from others and ultimately from ourselves.
3. If we use the imagery of love of others as the fruit of life for which we are to pray, then there is a sweet joy of life we experience. 1 John goes on, "If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won't be worried about the day of judgment. A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love."
In the recent General Conference of the United Methodist Church we got caught up in literalistic rules and regulations regarding homosexuality. We decided on punishment and limitation as the order of the day. Basically we expressed our fear of not trusting GOD's love which is intended to be modeled by us and gives us new life and so we showed we have not really learned to love. This is challenging material to have GOD's love call us to change from a controlling love knowing what is best for someone else to an expansive love knowing only that GOD sent Jesus for every "someone else."
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