Thursday, June 18, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...a vine cut off

There is no church in Kaş, so each Sunday evening we gather with whatever believers are around to share table fellowship. Sometimes at Ken and Eva’s flat, sometimes at ours. Sometimes it’s just Curt and me, or even just me. Whoever—we celebrate the presence and promise of Jesus among us, the One who is enough.

A few weeks ago seven of us gathered on the highest balcony of the Gőkseke house. Cait was there, and so were friends Stephanie and Josh. Ken and Eva, too. Ken shared from John 15, where Jesus calls Himself vine and us His branches. Branches produce grapes through the life that courses and radiates from the vine.

As Ken talked, I noticed an old bit of vine that clung to the railing. It was deader than dead, brown and brittle with these minuscule dried-up grapes. Our gardener had taken the plant the summer before, but because the house was shut up he couldn’t get to the balcony.

I gazed at those tiny, dead grapes and wondered what my “fruit” looks like to Jesus. Me, thinking myself in a lofty space, intertwined and sturdy with a panoramic outlook, when in truth sometimes I cut myself off from Jesus in my spirit. Pride, self-interest, or just habits of fitting in, complacency. So that no supernatural life courses through me, and my proud, self-manufactured “fruit” is dead, dead, dead.

A few days later I went back to the house with my camera so I could show you that dead vine. I climbed all the steps, and struggled with the stiff lock on the balcony door. I looked. No vine! The gardener had been back, this time with a key to the house. No doubt glad to finish, he had torn away the branches and consigned them to the burn pile.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in her, she will bear much fruit…. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:1-8 (excerpts)

I couldn’t take the photo of the dead branch, but perhaps this one of this year’s tended vine with its budding new life is a better image to contemplate.

O Lord, heal us! Show us the dead places--not to discourage us, but so that we can receive your gracious tending and pruning and experience Your life coursing ever more through us. We long to bear Your fruit, fruit that will satisfy, fruit that will last!

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