John 15:16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. [NRSV]
“Bear fruit, fruit that will last” is the curious qualification for the “whatever” in the response “SO…the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” I’ve spent hours and typed many paragraphs these last few days trying to explain to myself what that specific “fruit that will last” is because it’s so important to that “whatever.”
In the end I’ve discovered to bear “fruit that will last” is something far simpler and more personal and it’s my tie-in to Advent. Jesus is our gift of faith. “Bear” usually implies the power to sustain without flinching or breaking and faith is the only “fruit that will last” long enough to make “whatever” a reality in our life.
John 15:2 He [the Father] removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes [and cleanses] to make it bear more fruit. [NRSV]
Facts: Artful pruning of a grapevine is what produces better fruit and maintains the optimal health of the branches. The pruner determines which branches should be allowed to grow and which should be removed. The only shoots that yield grapes are those that grow each spring from one-year-old canes – those that began growing the previous year. Pruning is vital for the vine because old canes can still produce leaves that make a branch look good but only sap the strength and ability of the newer canes to produce fruit. It’s all about the fruit.
Truth: Jesus speaks in pictures I can understand. There is no substitute for new growth and how it contributes to fruit bearing and a healthy life of faith for the believer in Jesus Christ. I know how easy it is to look pretty good based on what has already happened in your life of faith. I know what it’s like to resist the pruning of things that were real and good “then” but are old now. I know the pruned branch looks really bare and exposed until new growth appears. I know the purpose of pruning is the fruit…and I know the purpose of grapes.
Inspiration: What turns the grape into wine? It is crushed and then in due time when the process is through, the wine will be new. You’ll be my wine in this world. 💕Jesus
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
I love advent. I love taking the time every day to think about how the story of the birth of Christ is the beginning of life for so many of us. It’s as if remembering all the long-ago events that led up to his actual birth is God’s way of refreshing us. I love Advent Calendars and wreaths. This year I’m going to create a digital version of a less-well-known way to remember these days leading up to Christmas, the Jesse Tree, the branch Isaiah 11:1 mentions. There’s a lot of information on the internet about that if you want to know more.
On this first day of Advent 2016 I can’t help but think of the effort God put into preparing what we are here to remember again this year. Isaiah is a perfect place to begin. Out of the root of that stump of a great tree that seemed seemed only to be lost, there came Jesus, the branch who began at the very moment of his birth to bear fruit that you and I are living proof of.
A Responsive Reading
“1:4…we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—”
People are talking. The change your faith has made in you is obvious and it strengthens our community to know that our prayers have played a part in that.
“1:9…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…”
It’s great to be around people who agree with what you know and understand. What’s even better, though, is the awareness that the Spirit is teaching each of us just what we need to know to agree with God himself. That’s what we want for you.
“1:10…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”
Fruit doesn’t just happen. It’s a result of what you do AND your intimacy with God that results in your personal growth.
“1:11…so that you may have great endurance and patience”
You’ll need both of those things because our community is filled with people just like you. People who struggle to learn from each other how to endure through imperfection. People who have enough patience to believe God really is working to build This “Perfect” Community while we each practice “bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”
“1:12…and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
And everybody said Amen!