FRUITS OF THE VINE!
HOMILY – EASTER 5 [B] 2018 [John 15:1-8]
The drinking culture in New Zealand has broadened over the last 30 years or so, and a taste for wine has taken hold. Wine is proving itself productive in places formerly disregarded, like Central Otago and gravel pits in Hawkes Bay.
But much of the wine quality depends on the protection and care of the vines – their sturdiness and ability to cope with the toughest conditions. Without the vine there can be no wine! Jesus chose well in describing himself as the Vine. We are the branches. He is our starting point; he has broken through terrain and established firm roots, gifting life and energy to the branches, which in turn support the fruit.
And the fruit of the vine – the grapes we, the branches, are empowered to yield, come from the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. How does such fruit mature – very much like good wine. There is more to winemaking than picking the grapes. Much discernment is required to identify and select the right strains to create a wine that is unique yet complex. Winemaking is a challenging craft that must take into account elements as diverse as the weather, temperature, soil, pruning, light and shade, timing the harvest…
In Jesus, the vine and the branches are the Church. We are called to bring the differing characteristics of each branch into a community, working together. We are people with different backgrounds and abilities, different ways of thinking and doing. But our differences are not meant to hinder or threaten, but to be seen as gifts for blessing and bringing about a wonderful harvest.
Next Saturday afternoon you can come and experience the variety that makes us who we are. The gift-discernment time will be your chance to identify the gift that is yours and which you might bring to the creation of a rich, powerful and beautifully complex wine – our community of faith. Your gift will help mature one or more of the fruits that the Spirit brings through your branch. Winemakers tell us that all the senses play a part in producing and enjoying wine. So, ask yourself, what do love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control, smell like, taste like; how do they feel to touch; what do they sound like?
Think seriously about this and the identity and purpose of your gift will start to clarify. I hope many of you will come next Saturday. It is a way of thanking Jesus, the Vine, for wanting you to be part of him. Gift yourself into the mix of a great vintage.