John 15:1-8 (NRSV)
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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.
Have you ever been cut off from loved ones and unable to communicate? I love wilderness areas of the West. Many times when I was backpacking in Colorado or Wyoming, I was out of touch with the world for sometimes as much as two weeks. As soon as I returned to modern life, and a telephone or cell signal, there was a phone call to family or friends to let them know I was OK. Despite the beauty all around me, I missed family and friends.
In the wilderness I was like a branch broken off from the lifegiving love and friendship of others. This pandemic seems like a wilderness sojourn for many of us. It’s a good time to remember the vine to which we are attached. The vinegrower gently secures the branches against storms. Together we are strengthened and never give up being disciples who bear much fruit.
O Lord, keep me attached to the vine that I may not be isolated and may grow in your love. Amen.