Firth Sunday of Easter
May 2, 2021
First Reading: Act 8:26-40
Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-21
Gospel: John 15:1-8
You Are My Fruit
In the 1970’s I had bought a house in Arizona. A doctor I worked with at the hospital was born and raised in Greece, he had given me some grapevines that he brought or ordered from Greece.
I had a big backyard and my father came over to help me with, putting post in the ground and we strung wire between the post. I didn’t know anything about grapevines or how to take care of them, I did know the basics of watering them, and then every day, as they started to turn greener and vines begin to grow, I would make sure the vines were lifted up off the ground and carefully, I would guide them to the wire.
It was as if I was saying, here you go! Here is where you start and you now have to learn by your nature, that you (the vine) follow the wire and keep yourself up, so… your fruit is lifted off the ground.
I had to most delicious black grapes that we and the birds enjoyed.
Gospel John; 15:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the great “I am” statements. The seventh and final statement is “The True Vine.”
John wants us to know that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” and (I’AM) Is and expression of divinity and oneness with God.
As Jesus spoke of Himself by saying, “I am the true vine,” The vine is used throughout the scriptures to represent Israel, the people of God, God’s people of Israel appear as the vine in (Ps.80-8)
“You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you cast out the nations and planted it.”
The people of Israel knew all about vines and vineyards, they knew how to prune the vines and to cut off the old branches to have new growth, how to care for the vineyard and to dig up the plants…. that did not produce fruit.
If the grape vines produced good fruit, then they would enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, either can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.”
What does this mean for us today? “I am the true vine? “He is trying to help us understand the value of being connected to Him by faith. A deep and growing relationship with Him will result in peace in all circumstances, hope in trials, strength in adversity, and joy… that cannot be taken from you.
A branch needs the vine continuously, Only the vine brings the sap to nourish, strengthen, and keep branches alive.
We are the branch that is connected to Jesus, it is a continuous branch, and we depend on his word for strength and love.
“Jesus says, 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.
You and others might think that if I don’t do as directed, I will be cut off and burned, but pruning is not a punishment for a Christian; it is a reward. God is the vinedresser who prunes the life of everyone who abides in Christ and bears the fruit of Christ.
Spiritual pruning, enhances spiritual growth by removing whatever inhibits spiritual growth.
What fruit does God want us to bear? The most notable of his teachings on fruit-bearing is from the teaching of the Apostle Paul who lists the fruit of the spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, Joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Those virtues show themselves in our words and actions. The real fruit comes only from branches connected to Jesus, branches that receive their strength and nourishment from the Ture Vine.
Jesus says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. And…neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
We are the fruit of his vine and God works on us everyday in our lives to trim away the old branches on us and to give strength to the other branches so that they (we) are fed with his love, to grow in strength to bare more fruit.
We are not the first of the fruit that God created and we are not the last of the fruit on the vine. We all share this world together bound by the branch and the vine of Gods love for us.
The Good News:
In my personal story of planting and growing grapevines, I knew the basic of watering and feeding the vines, Jesus knows what we need and he feeds us by his Word and with spiritual food in the sacraments.
As we begin to grow as Christians and His disciples, just as I helped lift my vines up off the ground and carefully guided them to the wire, so their natural abilities would help them follow the wire.
Jesus lifts us up when we fall and gently guides us to the wire of his love and he nourishes us every day.
God has attached all of us with the vine of his love through Jesus Christ, his blood runs through the vine and feeds us with all the qualities of goodness, that we have been given by God’s grace to exercise our faith and help us with becoming fruitful Christians, we can follow the seven virtues that St. Paul spoke of:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, Joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
Rev. Lola Culbreath