"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 (NRSV)
Fire destroyed the Bible camp's main building, which housed the chapel, dining hall, and kitchen. One year later, Carol Harrison, looked at the trees that had been in close proximity to the fire. Green leaves fluttered in stark contrast to scorched bark and dead, blackened branches. Carol could still see life in the trees, but she wondered whether they would survive. Experts advised cutting off all the dead branches to allow the trees to heal. grow, and flourish once again.
The trees reminded Carol of today's reading. Even healthy trees need pruning - cutting away anything that prevents them from producing the best fruit. Jesus tells us that we are like branches that only survive if we remain in him - the true Vine. We all make decisions and have attitudes - fear, disobedience, despair - that hinder us from living into the fullness that God wants for us. But when we ask, God will prune away the old habits and replace them with life-giving ones.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to remain in you so that we may have abundant life. Help us to accept Your pruning, knowing that You are helping us to grow in Your ways, in Jesus' name, amen.