When I say, “Let’s talk vines” it most emphatically is not because I know much, if anything about them. My mother was an excellent gardener as are a number of my other relatives but if that is a genetic trait, I apparently mutated it out of my DNA.
The sermons this week come from one of the very well known texts in John, another one of the “I am” statements that Jesus made, where Jesus says “I am the true vine” (John 15:1 NRSV). As I mention, going into the most length in the Knox sermon, I managed to misunderstand the main point of this passage (John 15:1-8) by being completely focused on the part where the vinegrower takes the branches that are dead or the prunings and throws them on the fire. I don’t know if I am the only one who grew up hearing judgement whenever it was even peripherally part of any given text, I certainly hope no one else had to live through that but I’m not confident.
So as a corrective to that whole notion I preached from the perspective that being part of the vine is great and having a vinegrower who cares enough to prune the parts of branches that are unhelpful, damaged or diseased without just chucking the whole thing and beginning again is just as great. I wanted us to see that when we are part of the vine it is no longer our sole responsibility to be fruitful. Furthermore, this is another passage that reminds us that the ultimate determiner of fruitfulness is the vinegrower, not us.
I hope you find something of value and encouragement in one or the other of these sermons (or both if you have the time and inclination). For my part, being reminded that I am not only a poor judge of my own fruitfulness but it isn’t my role at all is just a good thing.
Knox Presbyterian The true vine
St. Mark’s Presbyterian The true vine