Minister’s Letter September 2016

Dear friends,

A couple were kind enough to give me a red flowered camellia for my 50th birthday. I look forward to it blooming next spring. Those of you who know me well are quite aware that I like growing plants whether it’s spring bulbs, lily, dahlias, annuals or perennials. Some of my plants were given to me by church elders in Airdrie and have given me a lot of pleasure over the years. Early in my time there an elder give me a viburnum bush, once again it was a birthday present. It flowered faithfully each year, late winter and into spring. However over the summer months the said viburnum began to look sick and its leaves were droopy and without lustre. I tried removing the plant from its pot and renewing the compost. It didn’t like it and now the plant has died. I need to replace it with a new plant.

I enjoy gardening because it is therapeutic and relational. The keen gardener develops a relationship with the plants which means he/she nurtures them so that they thrive and do well. The gardener can also detect if there is something has gone with plant, if it is suffering from disease, insect damage, nutrient deficiency or over/under watering.

In John chapter 15 Jesus uses the analogy of gardening to describe the relationship between God the Father and God the Son and how they relate to the believer. Jesus says ‘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 will be even more fruitful’ [vs1-2]. In this metaphor the branches are believers who are grafted to Jesus through faith.

What do these verses tell us? Firstly that the gardener knows how the vine is supposed to be and how to make it thrive. Several times we have made visits to champagne in the early spring. The viticulturists trim the branches of the vines, because they know what will give the plants the maximum capacity to bear fruit. They also know that dead wood needs to be removed to prevent disease being established. There are often dead branches from the vines at the side of the rows ready for burning.

Secondly Jesus picture reminds us the Father and the Son work closely together. They are interdependent on one another. For a heathy vine, the Father prunes the branches and it is a vine with healthy branches that will bear the best fruit. We are reminded that the persons of the Holy Trinity work together in perfect unity.

Thirdly we are reminded that as Christians we are expected to bear the fruit of God’s work within us, as we grow and mature in faith. Jesus parable of the sower makes this point that when the seed of God’s word falls on good soil (a receptive human heart), it will grow and produce ears of corn. A fruit-bearing Christian is useful to God in advancing Christ’s Kingdom on earth, by serving him. A mature Christian sees work needing done in the life of the local congregation, rolls up their sleeves and gets on with the task. There is much to be done to support and strengthen the Christian witness of our congregation. Use the fruit that God has blessed you with and make a difference.

Your minister and friend,