John 15:1-5, 8 Jesus the Real Vine
“I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.
My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples.
‘Everything Old Is New Again’ denotes a Silversmith’s repurposing of old copper and brass roofing from a century old church. From this she created a delightful pectoral cross that I wore when being celebrant at my daughter’s wedding. It reminded me that through change and renewal in our churches, we retain what is precious and repurpose it in unexpected ways, as we prune to strengthen flourishing new ministries. Not just physical buildings, but also the heart of the church family, the spirituality of its soul and the learnings that the community has received as it follows the Way of Jesus. Jesus reminds us that it is right that we prune, grow in faith, renew our strong branch of ministry and develop our new missional opportunities. As churches, God continually calls us to go back to the roots of our faith, reflect on the Wisdom that nourishes us, and use Jesus’ teachings as the stalwart strength from which we reach out and grow in new directions. Bearing the faithful fruit within our church communities, only comes with continually being alive to the Vine and branching towards the Light of God. This essentially means pruning what may have been of purpose previously, but now needs a reshaping, or even a letting go, so that energy and new life can flourish for the missional work before today’s community. The Gardener is always there, reshaping our way of being and acting, to bear fruit for the world.
© Rev Anne Hewitt 28/04/2021
this reflection may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.
Rev Dr John Baillie was significantly influential in the ecumenical movement of the twentieth century, a highly respected theologian and revered churchman. He mediated ecumenical dialogues, was pivotal in the formation of the first World Council of Churches (1948) and on the first Central Committee before becoming one of the Presidents (1954). His Dairy of Private Prayer (1937) had more than 20 translations and numerous editions.
As we draw towards the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Southern Hemisphere) let is pray with him:
Teach me, O God,
so to use all the circumstances of my life today
that they may bring forth in me
the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin.
Let me use disappointments as material for patience;
Let me use success as material for thankfulness;
Let me use suspense as material for perseverance;
Let me use danger as material for courage;
Let me use reproach as material for long-suffering;
Let me use praise as material for humility;
Let me use pleasure as material for temperance;
Let me use pain as material for endurance. Amen
Rev Dr John Baillie
Ó A Diary of Private Prayer (1936)