I don't know very much about gardening, but I do like to play in the dirt and I'm always fascinated by the life cycle of plants, particularly the ones that bear fruit. In order to understand the metaphors that Jesus uses often in his instruction to the disciples, it's important to be skilled in horticultural terms and to be fluent in the language of the agrarian which most of us are not. To have a full understanding of the lesson this week, it's helpful to understand a little bit about tending grape vines. If you've ever done any gardening at all, you know that vines are wild and crazy plants that grow completely out of control if not tended by an expert in the vineyard. The shoots and tendrils can take over a garden and smother other plants and destroy the roots of others. The main branch is the one to watch and the shoots that are closest to that main branch are the ones that produce the most fruit. The gangly vines farther away sometimes dry up or die and they produce no fruit at all. The vine is pruned by the vinegrower (God) and nourished by the main branch (Jesus) and the branches that do not produce fruit are the ones that are pruned. Food for thought, isn't it?
Rev. Liz Tomlinson