From the Senior Steward – Vanessa
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is 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 given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:5-8, MSG)
Whenever I have heard or read this verse over the years, it has always made me think of gardening. Something that I love but have very little time to do! Our garden was landscaped back in the 60’s, when the house was built and by today’s standards and recommendations, it was very badly done. What straight thinking person would plant an ash tree, a willow tree, three apple trees and a pear tree in a corner garden on a housing estate? To add to that there are at least four forsythia shrubs and at least as many old shrub roses. The latter reach up 20’ in places and have stems the size of a small tree, they flower only once a year with non descript single blooms. Nothing like the modern shrub roses from the likes of David Austin. I can only dream when I look at their lush blooms, online or in a catalogue.
I was unsure what to muse about for the April Magazine but as I had a spare hour, I decided to go into the garden and try to fill up the brown bin, ready for collection on Thursday. Nothing spurs me into action more, than paying for something I’m not using!
As I chopped and snipped, in the never ending battle with our overgrown plot, I started to think about this verse. There were many withered twigs, knocked from the willow tree by the recent high winds. Under the shrubs there were dead leaves and more fallen debris.
In these verses, Jesus calls himself a vine because it gives life to branches and without the vine, the branches cannot live. When branches are alive and healthy and connected to the vine, they produce fruit. This is just like us when we stay connected to Jesus, we can produce fruit and share gentleness and kindness and all good things that can attract people to God. If we start working in our own strength, we become like the branches that have been cut off, we start off by believing in our own strength but ultimately wither and die.
As I was snipping and chopping I also noticed all the new spring growth around. Growth that will produce apples, passion fruit and other growth that will produce lovely flowers.
As Easter approaches, we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice made for us all by the Crucifixion of Jesus. We also look to his glorious resurrection and the opportunity to live our lives in Jesus to the fullest and to remain connected to the vine. A very happy and blessed Easter to all!