As a child, I can remember gardening in our backyard. We didn't have a huge garden like my grandmother, but we had enough to be respectable. There are times when I remember strawberries and cucumbers. We had pumpkins one year. We had tomatoes and onions and carrots. We even had a gooseberry bush that produced only one season but we had enough to make a pie and it was sweet and tart and delicious!
|There is a deep satisfaction|
when your vine is heavy with grapes!
One year in particular we had a bumper crop of grapes. There were more grapes than we knew what to do with. We decided to make grape jelly which was not easy because these grapes were definitely not seedless!
It took a lot of work but we made jars and jars of jelly. However, something was wrong with our recipe because the jelly would not set. However, it tasted good and so we called it grape syrup and used it on pancakes.
The imagery that Jesus uses of fruit is such that if you've ever raised it, you know that it may not come in the same each year. You can tend to it at about the same level and this is no guarantee that you will have results.
I think this may be why Jesus uses the image of producing fruit for ministry. Sometimes we may work and work on a particular individual, showing this person compassion, kindness or helping them with their faith development. And they may disappoint us in how they adopt the faith for themselves.
Other times, we may give the scantest amount of attention and find that this person is hungry for more! They grow in their faith at a rapid rate and may even take off without us, leaving us behind!
We're not sure why some produce and others don't. But our calling is to be faithful. We are to offer love to the world in a variety of ways. If we are faithful in this, we must remember that God is a part of the equation. We believe that God will be faithful as well - maybe not to our preferred timing or liking but faithful none the less.
You can wear yourself out gardening and some years see very little result for your efforts. In contrast, you might see a huge yield that surprises you. Thus it is with people as well.
Prayer for the day:
Holy and eternal God,
give us such trust in your sure purpose,
that we measure our lives not by what we have done or failed to do,
but by our faithfulness to you. Amen.
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, A New Zealand Prayer Book.
Photo by Jill Clardy via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.