In my office window, there are some plants that the children planted in worship a few months ago. The variety is one that I have grown before. I know it to grow reliably and quickly. And sure enough, it has been blooming for the past few weeks, and is now producing seeds that will be the next generation.
However, the trellis they are climbing is leaning. It is bearing quite bit more weight than when I first put it in the soil. The soil itself has settled down away from the trellis. It is not providing the support it once did. At the same time, I am noticing that some of the leaves on the plant are yellowing, and beginning to drop off. I need to add some more soil to the pot, and perhaps some fertilizer as well. As it is, the soil does not have enough depth and nourishment to sustain the plants that are growing in it!
Its a contrast to the allegory of the vine and the branches that Jesus shares with his disciples in John 15. There, Jesus assures the disciples that so long as the remain attached to him, they will always have what they need in order to flourish and bear good fruit. Jesus has no shortage of resource. His love is endless, his mercy is boundless, his strength is sufficient to bear even the pain of death and still remain victorious. He will not be defeated! And so he reminds his disciples, especially in the challenging times that are soon coming to them, that they must remain in connection with him. Jesus knows that fear will drag at them. He knows that the winds of uncertainty will tear at them. And he knows that they will even publicly deny him. But he does not judge or condemn. Instead he desires that they remain at one with him, return to him, accept his grace and reconciliation, and find new life.
Where do we find new life?
I have another vine, sitting on my counter at home. I am waiting for the weather to warm reliably, so I can plant it. My hope is to harvest fruit from it later this year. But I need good, safe ground to plant it in; ground that will keep it secure and nourish it, and make it able to survive the eventual coming winter. Right now it is starting to put out leaves, even as it sits on my counter. It has no earth, no source, not even water beyond what is stored inside of itself. If it remains where it is, it will die.
So I will not leave it where it is.
We, as a church, through our Vital Ministry conversations, have shared that we need to be more intentional about our spiritual lives, our attention to our relationship with God in Christ. We know that we need to cling tight to Christ so that we might continue to know life that can withstand every storm. To help us in this, we are planning for regular activities and devotions to encourage us in our walk with Jesus together. This Lent we have been reading and praying through our Lenten Spiritual Emphasis, “More Faith, More Hope, More Love, More God!” After Easter, we will be beginning a new six week bible study on Tuesday evenings. Adults and youth are invited to join in study groups using the resource “Companions in Christ.” The Children are invited to take part in Faithweaver Friends activities. We will all gather together beforehand to share in a simple meal starting at 6PM.
No schedule will work for everyone, but we hope that you will commit to being a part of our clinging to the vine together. Christ has given, and continues to give of himself completely so that we may know new life. Lets make the changes that are necessary, so that we all may grow together, and that Christ’s life will find new life in us.