Today's Lectionary Text
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just 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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
When I read this scripture, it reminds me of when I was a child. When I was only 3 years old, my parents got divorced. About that same time, my mother planted an apple tree. We already had three cherry trees that always produced an abundant harvest, so I was looking forward to a big harvest of apples.
The first year after the tree was planted, we didn’t have any apples at all. The second year, again, no apples and my mom started talking about cutting down the tree if it didn’t bear fruit. From my experience, I believed that Jesus was with me and I could talk to Jesus at any time, what I later learned was called prayer. I deeply believed, even at the young age of 4, that Jesus sat with me like a friend and talked with me, so I could trust he would respond if I prayed. So, I told my mom that if she would wait, I would pray every day for fruit. The next year, again there were no apples. I begged my mom to give it one more year and I would keep praying. The next year when the tree bloomed, I was very hopeful. As the summer continued, I kept watch but didn’t see any apples. Then one day my mom said she was ready to cut down the tree. My eyes started to well up with tears and I ran outside to check the tree one more time. It was then that I found three small green apples! Three worm ridden apples, which was enough to save the tree!
There is much wisdom in this experience because I deeply believe that we abide with Jesus, which means He abides with us. It is a relationship we continue to nurture and keep healthy simply by spending time together, in whatever way nourishes the relationship. Keeping the relationship healthy will result in fruitfulness. Jesus never said our fruit had to be perfect. The fruit may be too small, worm-ridden, or even overly ripe; yet there is still potential for its use. We simply must turn to Jesus and listen for how our fruit will help to bring and sustain life for all who share the same vine, the same roots as us.
--Rev. Libby Oberdorf
Salina Church of the Cross
*Devotion originally published 9/14/2019
Prayer for Reflection
Jesus, help us to remember that it is our intentional attentiveness to our relationship with you that helps us to abide with one another. As we abide together help us to bear fruit that continues to bring seeds for a new creative future together. Amen.
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