As I write this article, I am completing my sixth week of forced, limited movement. It has been quite the experience and not one I would wish on anyone else.
If this accident has taught me anything, it is how much we need each other. You know what I am talking about. Times when we are broken physically or spiritually are overcome only by the grace and mercy of God, often through others. Helping hands, comforting and assuring hands are what enable us to have the necessities of life. Without others, we lose the ability to overcome the adversities to providing what is necessary for life. We need one another.
Jesus speaks of our need for connection. Using the image of a grape vine, he says we need to be connected to him. He is the vine and we are the branches. He supplies the nourishment and we produce fruit. Every vine must have roots and Jesus speaks of his connection to his Father and how our fruit-bearing glorifies God. It is one great system for feeding the world with fruit that lasts, that nourishes and sustains life in all of us.
We are each branches of the vine. Collectively we are responsible for bearing fruit that nourishes the people in our communities and beyond. Whether we know the people who live around us or not, we offer a source of fruit that is nourishing for their lives. That fruit can be helping, caring, feeding, sharing, understanding, and loving to name but a few. These are the things that people need whether they will admit it or not—whether they will receive it or not.
Those most familiar with grape production say that vines need great care. Vines must be lifted up out of the dirt to prevent rot and enable growth. Vines must be pruned to promote the production of fruit. There is more to this than I can speak of, but I can see by what I do know that we are each part of the process of caring for the vine.
Our expressions of care and concern for one another serve to keep the vine lifted out of the dirt. Sharing what God is doing in our lives serves to promote growth which leads to fruit-bearing. It is this fruit that we then take with us to feed others. We feed others in conversations and acts of kindness and mercy. Our fruit is evident in the ways we respond to adversity and challenge. It is evident in the ways we care for brokenness. It is evident in the ways that we share our love and enable healing. Everything we do shares the fruit that we produce through our connection to Jesus.
In the end, if it were not for Jesus and how he is present in all of us, we would not be able to bear much fruit. The daily reminders of God’s provision for our lives—God’s gifts of healing, help, and hope—enable us to work for the best future for all. We serve to assure others that God cares for them in their situations. When others, who may not know God, experience mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and consolation, they taste the fruit that God so richly provides to all of God’s children.
And so, it comes down to this: I need you, you need me, and you need each other. Together we provide nurture and care to one another. Together we care for the vine that we might produce much fruit—fruit that will last. Together we are responsible for carrying that fruit into the world to feed those who hunger and thirst for justice. Together we enable this world to be the expression of God’s love realized. Together we proclaim peace. May it be so.
Grace and peace,