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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 15:1–8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to 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.” (NRSV)

In Junior High ministry we play a lot of games. One of my go-to games involves all but one of the students being blindfolded. The one student who can see whispers instructions to another student who can’t. That student then tries to get the group of blindfolded students to work together on a common goal. Inevitably, chaos ensues, and students are sometimes quick to blame someone else for the group’s failures. Students will suggest changing roles or switching out students in order to achieve the assigned task. It is a challenging exercise for building teamwork, but it makes me think about all the things that go into even the simplest of tasks—how everything must work together and the creative ways we come up with as workarounds when things don’t go properly.

In this passage, it is easy to focus on Jesus being the vine, and with him in our lives we are the fruit. But the passage also emphasizes that God is the gardener pruning away dead branches in our lives. Do I always agree with God on what the dead branches are in my life? Do these painful prunings of parts of our lives really give us the opportunity to bear more fruit? Are there things in my life that I am holding on to that are holding me back from my potential?

Creator and Redeemer, help me to trust in you, to use you as my vine and strength, to let go of my dead and barren branches so that I can blossom more fully. Give me the wisdom and understanding to operate to my fullest potential. Amen.

Written by Katie Patterson, Youth Mission Coordinator

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