Seppeltsville Vine, ©Mark Hewitt 2010
Vineyards, vines, grapes & wine are very much part of South Australia’s culture, so we are in a good place to understand the imagery and the importance of the vine to those who Jesus first spoke to.
Agriculturally, vines & their fruit, the grape, were a part of every day life in biblical times. And as is the case today, the fruit of the vines were primarily for wine and then fruit for food. So Jesus makes use of this rich resource of imagery, referring to himself & his community, as being a vine. With the vine grower/gardener being none other than God.
What is it that makes the vine different than the trees? A vine is a vine! Its hard to tell one branch from another. Where, one branch stops, and another begins. All branches run together out of the central vine. Branches aren’t usually referred to as branches but as part of the vine. The vine is made of the whole Church community is a vine. The mark of this faithful community is how it loves, not who its members are.
The vine though is not left to grow wild. The gardener prunes so that each branch that bears fruit can bear even more – love even more.
John 15: 1-8 (NRSV)
‘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 prunesto 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.
God, you are the vine grower. We are the branches.
Help us abide in your true vine, Jesus the Christ,
so that we may bear much fruit.
Grant that we may faithfully proclaim the good news
until all are welcomed into the new life
you so generously give. Amen
-©Seasons of the Spirit