John 15: 1-8
The images in today’s passage-vinedresser, vine, and branches--tells us about the communal and relational nature of our faith in God.
So, this parable of the vine challenges all of us whose lives have been constructed and promoted independence and making something of oneself.
From this standpoint, acts in a community may tend to be seen as outside the central spaces of our lives. The text, however, keeps telling us that we are branches and we are part of the body of Jesus Christ.
Its parts are many, but all from one body. Its branches are many, but all belong to one true vine. This is a word that we need to heed today.
That is why Jesus invited the disciples to stay close together and often warned them that they could not go it alone and could not trust in their own strength.
On their own power or way, Jesus knew that they would be cut off from their life sources, the true vine.
As long as the branches remain connected to the vine, they live and produce full leaves and abundant fruit. Whether or not the branches are connected to the vine is the most important issue for bearing the fruit.
These days, when someone is having a difficult time, we casually give the advice to “hang in there.” I have said this and heard this, “hang in there,” many times over the last year, especially as we are going through this season of pandemic.
Perhaps, those are not very helpful words for one who desperately wonders how to do just that.
But I believe Jesus offers so much more than hang in there, if we really do hang in there.
A single branch or the bundle of branches do not bear the fruit and do not stand in the midst of the stormy world.
Let us keep checking our connection to the vine before we expect the abundant fruit.
Let us keep striving to live together, abiding, finding our home in Jesus the vine and God the gardener who sustains us.
Let us keep hanging in there.