“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Clearly, Jesus expects his follower to bear fruit and not just a bit, but “much.”
I have a neighbour who grows grapes and I can’t imagine a thing more sour. Yet, not a single grape is left on his vines. There is a short window between the ripening of the grapes and the skill and speed with which the birds eat every last grape. Usually, we manage to pick enough bunches to make a most delicious grape jelly. My skill in this process is limited to mashing and occasional stirring, but the results transform a plain piece of toast into a veritable feast of taste and smell.
A vine-growers vision in the tending and pruning is not limited to a harvest of grapes but extends to the wine or jelly that are also made. Jesus doesn’t call us, in the great commission, to baptize in his name and make churchgoers, or envelope holders, or pew warmers. He calls us to make disciples; that is students, people who will learn, explore and follow his commandments. To bear much fruit is not to simply grow grapes, but to help those grapes transform into something marvelous.
Our vision of who God has called us to be as the Parish of St. Paul’s Church includes the idea that seeking justice, ministering to all families (and singles), helping people belong and worship are important elements in transforming us and others. We know that our Vision is true when we see in ourselves that we are able to abide by the commandment Jesus Christ gives us.
And what is that commandment? To love one another as he loves us. This is the jelly that holds the Body of Christ together.