Friday of Easter V – John 15:1-8

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Portland is between a couple of important wine producing parts of the country in the Willamette valley and Columbia Gorge. As I write this the many vineyards in this part of the world are just starting to wake up, including the little grape arbor in my own yard. The picture on the right is one I took there. In a few weeks and months that bud and those leaves will be transformed in a long and rambling vine, laden with clusters of grapes which I will enjoy this fall.

The land of Israel was a place they grew grapes too. Jesus must have had some experience with this. The viticulturalists (grape producers) whom I have met have told me that what he says remains accurate for the growing of grapes. They even use the same term as Jesus uses here, saying that a grape vine that has been pruned is “clean.”

Jesus wants to make a very important point to us. Grape vines send their roots very deep, drawing on minerals and moisture which is not visible. Those nutrients are pushed out and into the long, fruitful branches which bud out of the ancient vines. So too, God brings to you the energy and purity which we cannot see, but which make your life blossom, grow, and bear its fruit. It is our enemy, who wants us to despair, who tells us that we must do all this, who would have us forget the connection we have with the author of life and hear these words as a burden laid upon us. It is not Jesus who lays a burden on us. Jesus connects us to life and supplies us with all that we need. Our fruitfulness is not our doing or burden. Our fruitfulness is his life flowing into us and bearing its fruit. Delight in that connection today and look forward to what he will be doing through you today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.

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