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Sunday, May 22, 2016
Today’s Reading | John 15:1–11
“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.
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)
I went to grad school about twenty-five miles from the Napa Valley. My wife and I went there on our honeymoon. There’s a great romance about wine that has grown up through the ages, so when I read today’s passage about the root and the branches I naturally think of one thing.
Specifically, one small species of parasitic fly called Phylloxera, which attacks grapevines. Once the bug becomes established it destroys vineyards, and it almost destroyed the wine industry of France. Think of it—no Burgundy, no Bordeaux, no Cotes du Rhone, no Champagne.
The horror . . . the horror . . .
There is really only one way to combat Phylloxera, and that is to graft the branches onto a root that is resistant to the pest. The grafted branches retain their individual identities, and the root protects them. The sustaining rootstock used against the Phylloxera attack in France came from North America, and the result of grafting these vines onto a strong and sustaining root is that the French wine industry was saved, and the wine “which gladdens the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15) continues to flow to this day.
A vineyard of ripe grapes glistening in the sun is a romantic picture, one created by hard daily work. If the vineyard isn’t producing, one of the first things to check is the rootstock. If the branches are not grafted onto the right root, it all goes to waste. Without the protection and sustenance of the root, the branches will not thrive. They will wither and die, and all the work will be for nothing—literally, fruitless.
You see, it all depends on the root.
Lord, all the fruits of our labor grow from our rootedness in you. Thank you for sustaining and protecting us as we do the work you set before us. Amen.
Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts
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