Reflection on John 15-1-8:  5th Sunday of Easter 2 May 2021

The Gospel of John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, ”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. 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.”

The Collect for Sunday May 2: Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In a show of love for His disciples Jesus gave his disciples some very lengthy series of instructions on the last evening before His crucifixion. Since the time was so short only vital matters were discussed. The discussion of this parable was an indication of its importance.  The thought of pruning to enhance almost feels painful. Jesus made the new growth from pruning as an opportunity, an opportunity to show that God works to mold us and shape our lives and to give us direction to become the best we can.

Now the resurrected Lord addresses us. Twice he promises “I AM the vine.” And in that promise, something happens. There is an event in which we become something new as we are transformed by a new reality in which we are empowered and commissioned as disciples. The union we have with Christ is how we are transformed, and this comes about for the glory of God. Yet it also requires effort on our part to love and obey Christ. We cannot have a relationship with the Father without obeying Christ, and we cannot obey Him without loving Him and we cannot love Him without His life in us. That Jesus is the true vine has to do with his relationship to the Father and what it reveals about the Father’s love. All that the Father is and does is now seen in this Jesus who is both the “Word become flesh” and the one whom God raised from the dead. Everything that the Father does, including his work of pruning and cleansing the branches, is tempered, and understood through the word that Jesus is and has spoken to his disciples. Each of us is called to receive Christ as Lord and once we have made that initial declaration, we are directed to take our leading and our sustenance from Christ who is the vine. But our responsibility does not stop there. Our responsibility means engaging for ourselves as individuals and as the church in those activities and tasks that recognize and invest in the goodness of God’s love by spreading that love to the neighbor whom we are called to love. What we think might be destroyed by pruning, gives it new life.  New life like new light. Now the new light has come. It has come for all of us. May this Easter season be a blessing for all people, in their journeys, as the hope that it represents speaks to all of our hearts. May it remind us that life itself stands in the midst of us. We do not have to be afraid. May it symbolize that what we thought held us back has been rolled away. Reality has changed. May it inspire us to give thanks for one another and to pledge to work even more closely as a family in the days ahead, for when the light comes, it comes for one and all. As Jesus proclaimed:  I Am the “True” Vine You Are the Branches.

Let us Pray: Your love, O God, nurtures and strengthens us to bear fruit. May we remain in your love, and so become the first fruits of a humanity made new, bearing a rich harvest of holiness and peace. We ask these and all things through your son Christ Jesus, one with you and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen

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