A message from the Chaplain - May 2021
Dear friends, beste vrienden,
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” John 15:5
Some people have ‘green thumbs’ and can make any type of plant grow. For some reason, I have ‘brown’ thumbs and tend to kill even the strongest plant in my care. I don’t try to. It just happens. So, feel free to ignore my opinions about plants.
Thankfully, Jesus tells us that we don’t need to be good gardeners to be his disciples because HE is the vine. WE are the simply the branches. Branches don’t need to draw water and nutrients from the earth. But they do pass on these things to the fruit, which are essential for life and growth. In other words, we are like a channel for God’s goodness and love, which comes through Jesus to us, and then, we pass them on to everyone else.
The vine is also needed for strength and support. The branches need to be gentle and flexible to hold the fruit until they are ripe. Again, in God’s kingdom, Jesus will provide the strength and support, while we gently hold the new fruit of the Spirit until it is ready. If a branch becomes too heavy, dry or rigid, it can no longer hold the fruit and will break off. So, lightness, freshness and flexibility are essential to our ministry.
The vine and branches are a good image for our church as we emerge from the corona virus restrictions. We hope and pray that in the coming weeks and months, the number of cases will continue to decrease (as long as every is careful and does their part) and as vaccinations increase, it will provide more freedom for all of us.
Here are some thoughts for us to consider:
Vines don’t grow quickly. They take a loooooooooong time. So, everything at church won’t go ‘back to normal’ right away. It will also take a looooooong time. The goal is not to bear ‘fast fruit’ but ‘good’ fruit, which requires patience and care.
Vines grow better in bad soil. Unlike many plants, vines prefer hot, dry conditions. So, the difficulties of the past 14 months might actually be good for our ministry. If we look the history of the Christian faith, it has often flourished during times of persecution and suffering rather than power and wealth. Strange, isn’t it? This past year, we have learned new ways to share God’s Good News. We have discovered new talents. We have connected with people who might never have entered the doors of our church. While there have been many struggles over the past year, new growth and fruit blossoms are growing.
Eventually, the branches bring forth fruit to be eaten, give life and plant new seeds. So, even after we return to church, our ministry has just begun. Being connected to Jesus is not only about feeding ourselves. It is about feeding the world. When we are able to gather again, we can certainly rejoice, but we must also remember that our calling as his disciples has just begun.
Over the past 10 years, I have seen our community grow, flourish and bear fruit. I have complete faith that this trend will continue into the future, not because of what we do, but because we are connected to the True Vine that gives all life.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” John 15:8
Canon Stephen Murray