Posted on 04 August 2011.
Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5.
This year, we’re growing watermelons in our garden that’s just behind our shed and not very big at all. We have some cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers. But we also planted a couple of watermelons to see how they would grow.
Wow! The watermelon vines have grown all over, twisting and turning around the other plants. It’s hard to see where the watermelons actually start anymore! They’ve grown well, which is exciting for an amateur gardener like me, but I also learned that watermelons vines are much stronger than they look. When I wanted to cut the vines back a bit, it wasn’t easy to do.
My experience in the garden brought to mind the image that Jesus offers in the Gospel of John, chapter 15. Jesus calls himself the vine. He is our strong and mighty Savior who came to be with us, teach us who God is, and offer us a new relationship with God that brings eternal life. To some he appeared weak because of his challenge to the status quo and his command to love. But he showed God’s grace for each of us and called us to believe in him.
Jesus calls God (his Father) the gardener. God’s Holy Spirit works in us so that we might bear fruit. And God keeps on working in us—pruning us—that we might be more fruitful as we grow in faith, hope, and love.
Jesus calls those who believe in him and seek to follow him “the branches.” There would be no fruit on the branches without the vine. We are branches when we’re intentional about staying connected to Jesus by reading God’s Word, worshiping in a community of faith (with other branches), studying God’s Word, praying for others, giving and serving in Jesus’ name, and sharing what Jesus means to us through word and action.
The watermelon vines in my small garden reminded me that Jesus calls each of us to tend to our relationship with him. Are we connected to him? Do we notice that God is pruning away what doesn’t help us grow in faith so that we can bear fruit and give God glory?
On behalf of the CS Ministerial Association, I invite you to join us for our annual United Worship service on Sunday, August 28 at Morley Park. It will be a time of uplifting songs, inspiring messages, games for the kids, free lunch, and a live worship concert. (In the event of inclement weather, we’ll be at Cedar Springs High School Auditorium.) This is a great opportunity to worship together, to be connected to Jesus, the vine! Check it out at unitedcedarsprings.com!
If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. or Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!