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Friday, April 10, 2015

Today’s Reading | John 15:1–11

“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 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. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (NRSV)

One of my favorite things about spring is seeing the world come alive with color from all of the blooming flowers and trees. I remember, as a kid, visiting Calloway Gardens in Georgia every spring with my grandparents and marveling at all the brilliant plants. Such cultivated gardening takes careful skill and time and effort. Unfortunately, my own efforts to care for plants in this way have been decidedly less successful. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had an absolutely terrible “brown thumb,” so to speak. During my time in Texas, I even managed to kill an agave plant—which is generally fairly hardy and self sufficient—by giving it too much water. Thankfully, there are plenty of people in this world with greener thumbs than I have.

I think we can also all be thankful that when it comes to spiritual growth and the cultivating of the promised world, God is a much better gardener than we could ever be. It helps too to know that we don’t have to flourish on our own, but that we are part of the vine that is Christ. Everything in us that blooms and blossoms and flourishes is fruit of Jesus’ nourishing and God’s gentle gardening. The more firmly we root ourselves in Christ and his love, the more certainly we can trust in the bright spring our own spiritual lives. This kind of rootedness also gives us the strength to let fall away those things in our lives that are not spiritually nourishing. Abiding in the love of God, we find our joy complete and our spirits ready to blossom.

God of every newly blooming thing, we give you thanks for your abiding love and your gentle gardening. Help us to be the bearer of that love into this world. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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