John 15:1-8 (NRSV)
Chapter 15"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. Verse 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. Verse 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Verse 4Abide 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. Verse 5I 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. Verse 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. Verse 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Verse 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
The first time I saw a vineyard was on a trip to Germany. Meticulously kept vines covered a hillside. There was a picture-perfect castle at the top of the hill overlooking the vineyard. My host took me to a small shop so I could purchase a bottle of Heppenheimer wine to take home. The vineyard workers took obvious pride in their work and the master of the vineyard must have been proud of their labors.
The vinegrower in this “I am” saying is a master pruner because instead of killing the vine, it bears more fruit. I’m sure if I were to attempt to prune the vine, I’d kill it. Fortunately for us, we can let God do the pruning. What needs pruning in our lives so we can grow and bear much fruit? Are we ready to let the master vinegrower remove the withered branches of our lives?
Remove, loving God, the dead branches of my life and let me bear much fruit and be your disciple. Amen.