Today’s Scripture: John 15:1-4
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
Our travels through the Gospel of John have now brought us to one of the most important chapters in the whole book. Chances are we are going to be here for a few days!
Growing up in the church I heard these first few verses in chapter 15 a lot. And to be honest, I started to resent it. I developed in my mind’s eye a picture of this mean old gardener in coveralls and a floppy hat just poking around in my life looking for something to cut. Even today that image comes to mind when I read these verses. But then I remember my grandmother.
My grandmother was a rose gardener. She loved roses and had many different kinds of rose bushes in her yard. When we would visit her home in the summer, she would always have fresh cut roses in a vase in her living room and could tell you the names of each of them. I saw her many times take a pruning sheer to her roses and not once did I see it as something mean, scary or violent. Instead, she pruned with love and intention.
I think God is more like my grandmother than the old man in my imagination.
Pruning is hard to think about and harder to go through. But pruning ensures more fruit and better blooms. It’s not something we like to go through – but it’s something we need to go through; especially if we want to grow in discipleship and Christlikeness.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we are in a pruning season. However, 2020 has left us little doubts! I think we can say that God might well be using this year to prune back some branches that are just in the way. Yes, it has been a very rough year.
But instead of seeing an old man coming at us with sharp and indiscriminate sheers, maybe we should see a loving grandmother, carefully tending to her roses so that the new blooms will be large and healthy and beautiful. Hang on to the hope we have. God is doing God’s work in the world – and in you.
God we really do not like to be pruned. Help us to understand what you are doing and how you are loving us. Help us to continue to have hope in the future and hope that the kingdom you are building is coming soon.