At this service we looked a the reading from John 15: 1-10 “I am the true vine”. Well of course we had to illustrate it with a giant size bunch of grapes. This takes a bit of time to prepare, but it was worth the effort. I attached the balloons to an old towel by sewing through the neck, and it did provide quite a talking point. However, we didn’t leave it there – what is one of the things you get from grapes, and how do you get it? Juice, of course, and how about treading the grapes to get the juice? That is what we did towards the end of the service. The twist being that inside each of the balloons was a small piece of paper with a Bible verse on it appropriate for the topic we were talking about. Everyone had great fun with this game, with enthusiastic participation from a 5 year old up to an 80 year old eagerly treading the “grapes” to get the “juice” of God’s word!
And the other activity we did was to get the children to decipher this message, which we had written on our white board:
I am the True Vine: John 15:1-10
How did God create each one of us unique, special and different to anyone else in the world? How can God hear all our prayers? How can He love us so much He gave His only son for us? I can’t answer that, I can’t understand that, I can’t even comprehend the extent, the wonder and awe of God.
Jesus used the everyday to explain himself. He said “I am the bread of life”, “I am the Good Shepherd” and “ I am the true vine.” These are all things we understand. We understand bread feeding and nourishing us. We understand how a shepherd takes care of his flock. We understand how a vine flows life out to its branches so that they grow and produce fruit. Those are things we understand and the joy of the Lord is that He made it easy for us to understand.
Spring is here, blossoms are bursting into flower and a new season with all it’s new life is beginning again. Over winter I looked at the trees in my garden and the maintenance I needed to do, such as cutting off diseased branches before it spread. I also pruned healthy trees. The plum tree that I pruned last year was healthy. The year before it gave us 5 kilos of fruit, but after pruning its branches in a certain way, this year it gave us 30 kilos. It fruited much more abundantly , simply because of the way I pruned. God looks at us the same way – what part of us is diseased and needs to be removed before it spreads, or what part can be pruned so that we produce more fruit – such as those known as the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). These times can be painful but necessary none the less.
Another verse that spoke to me is v4: “Remain united in me and I remain united in you. You can not bear fruit unless you remain in me“. Since the last service, Luke has started school. He has been to preschool, he has been apart from me before, so that’s nothing new. But him starting school, wow, that brought up a whole new feeling for me. I felt lost and a bit disconnected. And as I wondered what all this meant I realised that, as a parent, at some point I want him to be independent, leave home and make his way in the world, become a man, a husband and father. Independent of me. He needs to stand alone – and yet there is and always will be a connection between us. And so it is with God. He respects us enough that He allows us to be our own person, to give us our own will, and in a kind-of way stand alone. and yet He asks that we still remain connected to him. I find God challenges me, not just to be connected with Him on Sunday but every day. The result of keeping in touch with God is what allows the life, His love, to flow in me, not in a sudden burst, but a continual stream. I most certainly get challenged in remaining more in Him, because I want to be in control. I struggle with that fruit of the spirit – self-control. I want my own control and to do it my way and in my time, and there is at times a difficulty for me to remain open to receive the Lord – whether I deliberately ignore Him or unintentionally forget about spending time with Him. It is staying connected at all times that can be hard but allows us to grow strong, healthy and to fruit more abundantly.