May 18, 2003

John 15:1-8

"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is-when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

[The Message]


1. So, which branch or behavior in your life needs pruning? This is tricky business because it is possible for even our weaknesses to bring glory to GOD. It is very tempting to be able to proscribe for others what needs to change in their life, but being pruned by GOD is very individual work.

2. At the same time there is an important communal function in the pruning process. At our best we can aid GOD's intervention strategy in someone's life. There does need to be a place to practice a newly pruned self. A community that understands forgiveness and allows newly pruned people to be among them is a blessing and finds itself blessed. Everyone can be changed when one person is changed and individuals can find themselves reshaped when a community about them shifts its attention to a new openness.

3. The "spiritual" work of being pruned and grafted never floats away into some perfect vine that casts its shadow on the world. This work is immanently practical and tangible. Not everyone who says, "Pruned, pruned," will be saved. So, grow up and get to work. Leave the harvest to the Harvester.