From your pastor…
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit…Abide in me as I abide in you. (John 15: 1,2,4 NRSV)
Spring is here. I love to see the new green leaves and the beautiful flowers blooming across the city. New Orleans is a beautiful place. Jesus is talking about bearing fruit and using a metaphor of God as the vineyard caretaker or a gardener. Pruning is a process that cuts back things that hinder growth so that new life can come forth. A knowledgeable gardener knows when to prune, how much to cut back, and how to help the plant produce the most fruit or flowers.
Recently, I had the joy of watching the movie entitled “The Shack.” I encourage you to see it if you have not had the opportunity. In the book and the movie, the Holy Spirit is depicted as a gardener who helps Mack to work in the garden representing his life. Old dying plants have to be removed. The ground has to be cultivated. Old rocks and bad rotting things have to be pulled out with the weeds to make room for new life and new growth and beauty. The rocks and weeds and rotting plants are the grudges that we hold in our hearts against others. The lack of forgiveness toward those who have hurt us can poison us within. We may have anger or jealousy or self-hatred in our hearts that keeps us from growing into our full potential and being the best person that we can be. God is the One who can help to prune our souls and empower us to grow and bear fruit and experience abundant joy. It is a process. It is not a one-time thing. God is patient with us and always present to help us. Sometimes it is necessary to look deep within and open up painful parts of our hearts and give them over to God. Only then can we experience the healing that God has to offer us.
This Easter season as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, may we too ask God to resurrect us from the inside outward. We can leave behind old dead branches and seek God’s Holy Spirit to give us renewal and vitality. Life is worth celebrating, and we want to offer our best gifts to the world in response to all that Christ has given us. How is your garden? How is your soul? Open up to the Almighty Gardener who loves you and will lead you to the place where it is well with your soul. Happy Easter!
Grace and peace,