“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”- John 15:1
This week’s Gospel is surely one of the more frequently quoted passages in the Bible, and therefore unsurprisingly familiar to me. But as I leaned against my husband in the pew, I suspected there was an even deeper connection to the text; a connection I confirmed when I returned home. Digging into my wedding organizer from almost 9 years ago, I discovered the Gospel from our Celebration of Holy Matrimony was John 15:9-17- the verses immediately following today’s assigned Gospel. As my faith has deepened over time, I slowly have stopped believing in coincidences. Instead I search for the message.
The most obvious direction is to reflect on my marriage itself. One of the indelible images from my premarital class with Father Merrow is the example of God at the top of a triangle with husband and wife at the remaining corners. The line between husband and wife can be an insurmountable distance that even the most willing partners cannot cross to reach one another. However as each or both partners move closer to God, that distance gets shorter and shorter. The readings this week underscore that we are all in relationship to one another, and most importantly with God. These relationships are not independent of one another, in fact they are indispensable to one another.
This week has brought the welcome opportunity to reflect on my relationships with others, including my marriage. In retrospect, there has been a lot of necessary pruning and many more connections that probably need to be severed. Many new and old relations have blossomed into faithful bonds. My husband and I have been blessed (and challenged) with two beautiful sons that have only grown our love for one another and God.
Next week after the last of the azalea blossoms wither, I will attempt to shape the bushes in my yard into perfect squares. As I look at the cuttings on the ground I can’t help but be reminded of painful losses, and lessons along the way that have helped me grow stronger. The dead branches fall away as an instant relief for energy wasted. Soon new growth will spring from previously desolate spots in a vulnerable pale green. Over the next year they will advance in new and unpredictable directions reminding me that, although I may try, I am not in control of the outcome, only the practice.
- Which relationships in your life are bringing you closer to God?
- Which ones draw you farther away?
- Are you faithfully loving others just as God loves you?