Sunday Message for May 2, 2021 – Jesus the True Vine

03
May

After reading the scripture for today, I was puzzled at first.  What was really being said and how could I portray that?  Reading it again, one part that it talks about is God pruning the branches that bear fruit so they will bear more fruit. 

Now pruning is not my thing.  I have a hard time just cutting away any dead branches on the bushes around our house.  But to prune a live branch back is almost impossible for me to do, after all, why does one need to prune a living branch?  Now, George, on the other hand, has no issues with pruning anything at all.  He gets his saw or pruning blade depending on what needs to be pruned and starts away.  I look at the tree or bush and just cringe.  I think the best example ever of how George prunes and the benefits of his pruning was the time he pruned a tree in my mom’s front yard.  It was a scraggly thing but every spring leaves would come out.  Mom and I thought it was just fine.  He, however, could see that it needed to be pruned.  So one day when he was not working and Mom and I were at work, he tackled the tree.  Now when we got there, both Mom and I just about had a stroke.  There wasn’t much left to that tree except the trunk and parts of the bigger branches.  There just was no way that it would come out of what had just happened.   George kept saying what he always says when he prunes something, now don’t worry it will be just fine, if not better than it was before.  Yes, I did have to admit that he was right; the tree was just fine, even better.  Later that year the tree was beautiful with lots of branches that were full of green leaves. 

The tree needed to be pruned in order for the branches that were alive to grow back stronger. This happened because the trunk of the tree was better able to provide the nourishment needed to make its branches grow back bigger and better.

Now if this was a grape vine instead of a tree, the branches that were pruned would be able to produce more and better clumps of grapes.  They were able to get the nourishment needed from the vine in order to produce more fruit.  This would make the vineyard more productive and the owner of the vineyard or the vine grower would have a better harvest.  Life is good. 

Back to the scripture, which says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.  Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.”  God is the vine grower, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches.  If we take it literally, if we are not productive branches, we are cut off and thrown to the fire.  If we are productive but our branches have more potential, we are pruned.  However, I don’t think we need to take the scripture literally.  It is a way for Jesus to tell us that we need to stay connected to Him.  The better connected we are to Jesus and to God, the better our lives will be.  The better our lives are gives way to us being able to serve God better by taking care of those around us for example.  If we are not connected to Jesus and to God, we have a hard time just taking care of ourselves.  If we can’t take care of ourselves, how are we able to take care of those around us?  So as the scripture says “Abide in me as I abide in you.”  We need to stay connected with our faith.  We need to remember that God is there for us, providing us the nourishment we need to live good, fruitful lives.  When our faith weakens, so do we. 

I found a message written by Father Mike Marsh, who is an Episcopalian priest who has a parish in West Texas.  He had a good way of explaining being the branches on the vine.

This is a part of his message:

“What fruit am I producing? How much? Is it an acceptable quality?  Those are good questions if we understand and ask them diagnostically, as questions not about the quantity of our lives but the quality of our lives.  That’s what Jesus is after.  That is the deeper question he is asking.  It is the invitation to join the conversation, jump into the game, to participate, and to live fully alive.  That only happens when the life, the love, and the goodness and holiness of Christ flow in us.  We become an extension of and manifest his life, love, and holiness.

It is a relationship of union even as a branch is united to the vine.  We live our lives as one.  This is not just about relationship with Jesus; it affects and is the basis for our relationships with one another.  Love for Jesus, one another, and ourselves become one love.  We soon discover we are living one life and the fruit of that life and love is abundant, overflowing, and Father glorifying. “

In conclusion, let us remember to stay connected to Jesus so that we are the best branches in the vineyard of God.  We need to remember that it isn’t so much about quantity but quality.   If we live quality lives, we will help others live quality lives.  Isn’t that what being a Christian is all about? Being connected with Jesus so we can live quality lives; which gives us the ability to help others live quality lives as well. 

Amen.

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