Tangled vines

Daily Reading for May 16

A vine by its very nature is going where you do not know, twisting and turning and reaching and growing, surging with life, abiding and yet always on the move. I think Jesus chose this way of telling us who he is on purpose. If you want a solid, humdrum, no surprise life, then stay away from him. He is the vine and he is dangerous. He will trouble your life—and if he isn’t troubling our values and our assumptions then we are disconnected. This is true of individuals and it is true of churches. For if the life of Jesus is surging through you, you are no longer in control—either as a person or a community—and so if the life of Jesus is surging through us then no telling how he will grow and change us.

We are not invited to admire Jesus on Sunday and walk through our week cut loose—that is to live shallow and die, really. We are invited instead to trust and to know that we can abide and live in the vine that gives us direction and meaning and power. And so sometimes you are in a season of winter when nothing looks like it’s happening. And yet you abide. And sometimes you are in a season of confusing growth and lack of direction and yet you abide. And sometimes you get twisted around a situation you would never have chosen, and yet you abide. And sometimes you get pruned back—and let’s face it we all would prefer to do our own pruning, but we can’t—and so even in the pruning we abide. We are not the ultimate creators and shapers of our own lives. There is this unknowable Pruner, Shaper, Creator, God even beyond Jesus.

From “The Vine” in Alive and Loose in the Ordinary: Stories of the Incarnation by Martha Sterne. © 2006. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. www.morehousepublishing.com

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