Jesus said, "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." John 15:1-8
We are in our last few days of travel, weary from the road, but delighted in a we have done. We are especially blessed by relationships renewed, some new friends made, and the possibility of putting down roots somewhere. There is much to be determined, many miles to go, but I am keenly aware today about the many blessings in my life - my family, strong, beautiful and complex; my church, likewise; and the incredible blessing of so many great and abiding friends along the way who renew me and restore me to hopefulness and possibilities. We have a lot of detours in our lives and even on this trip. Every single detour brought new blessings and challenges. But we are rooted in love - God's love and an incredible extended family - so no matter where we roam we are connected and held tight.
Jesus and his disciples lived in a world that knew vines, knew the image inside and out. A knotty, elderly, huge vine as the root, with wispy new growth at the very ends. In between would be strong, regularly tended vines that would produce massive amounts of fruit, if cared for correctly. They understood the image was a bout them and us. We are rooted together, tied back to the larger vine, would around each other for strength and always looking to bear fruit. God's desire is for us to bear fruit, to grow stronger and bound together as we flourish. It's not so much about loyalty but practicality. The vines is our source of life and strength and our source of new growth, and as we commit to each other we grow stronger and more capable every day.
Today, as we explore a new day, I ask God to help me be strong in my faith and in my commitment. Despite the challenges ahead, let me always remember my rooted-ness and the source of my strength. Let me rejoice in being wrapped and bound in other vines, knowing that each feeds and renews me, and helps me be productive and alive. May we all rejoice in our inter-connectness, and our dependence on God, for in this we flourish and the world with us.