This week, the texts are about “rootedness”. Again, we are given agricultural images, vines, and fruit. I would be willing to bet that more of us have knowledge about fruit trees, vines, and plants than we do of sheep and shepherds, am I right? Anyone who has planted a garden before knows that soil is everything. If the soil is not rich, fertile, full of nutrients, having enough water and warmed by the sun then no matter what is planted therein will not grow. Today's Gospel text is telling us that we are like precious planted things and that unless we are rooted in the soil that is God, we will never bear fruit, we will never truly be what we were meant to be. And what is the nature of the soil that is God? Paul writes beautifully about it in the epistle reading:
”Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
and what is more God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. God is Love, the stuff that God is made up of is LOVE and to be rooted in that is to be destined to produce sweet and satisfying fruit indeed.
But what about if the fruit is not produced? What if something is wrong, there is an impediment, an affliction? We hear in John's gospel that the part of the vine that is afflicted and cannot bear fruit is to be cut off, gathered with other "non-fruit bearing vines" and burned
Hmm, wait a minute did we not hear in the psalm appointed for today...
24For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me but heard when I cried to him.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love because he first loved us.”
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for “our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.”
The word of hope in today's texts is not that we better produce fruit or else!! it is that even we are on the low ebb of fruit production, even when we are afflicted and brought low, even when we are failing, the vine grower digs deeper, adds some fertilizer and water, tenderly prunes and whispers to us, "one more year, a little more love and you will produce much fruit!"
The God that is the very substance of Love is always whispering to us, you are rooted in me, not because you brought yourself here but because I planted you and appointed you to bear much fruit for the betterment of everyone, I will not abandon you so do not give up on me.