He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)
As I look around, trying to observe, trying to hear a word, all I notice are dead things attached to living things, and the living parts are carrying the dead parts.
The dead parts have not been pruned, and the living parts are not suffering for it.
Indeed they are growing wildly.
The dead parts provide contrast and colour. This leaf can’t be blamed for dying.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (John 15:3)
When your faith has been used to guilt and shame you, words like cutting off and pruning seem violent. I need to remind myself that sometimes plants that give no sign of life can recover with care.
I have a lemon tree with no fruit but I won’t cut the branches off, I will wait and hope.
I need to remind myself that Jesus’ words are not intended to guilt and shame, even if they have been used that way by people, and even if I have no alternative interpretation.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15:9)
I decide to be vulnerable and earnest, and I tell God in full faith that if being with my partner is sin, or outside of his plan for me, I will stop.
I feel a peace and feel a command to love. I feel that God cares less about who I love, and more that I love in the way Jesus taught. It is a revelation.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
As I sit there in the church car park thinking of all of these things, the verses that come to mind are of the vine and the branches, and the command to love.
I did not know until writing this that they could all be found in John 15. And now I read a footnote:
‘The Greek for prunes also means cleans.’
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he cleans so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (John 15:2-3) Ω
Imagine: You are a fruit tree. Where are you planted? What sort of fruit do you bear? Now imagine Jesus coming towards you in gardening clothes. What word does he speak to you?
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.
#Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent, Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.
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