I am the true vine
A Biblical Reflection given by The Right Reverend Samuel Azariah, Bishop of Raiwind, The Church of Pakistan
Our meditation this morning is the first in the month of August, for our Lambeth gathering being the first one in the first decade of the new millennium. As we begin let us remind ourselves of John’s message to continue strengthening the faith of our people that Jesus is God–man and is the sustainer of this creation.
The Scriptures is a constant reminder of God’s consistent and laborious acts of creation, where there is need of loyal and steadfast co-creators to establish relationship, happiness and peace giving glory to the Almighty. The Old Testament gives us an understanding of Israel being the vine or vineyard, but a disappointing one that is non-productive. John 15: 1-17 states about the change of role with Jesus being the True Vine.
As we reflect on John 15, its previous and following chapters, we read about our Lords great valedictory to the disciples, as he sends them to the task, for which he has been preparing them over the past three years. Jesus further strengthens their faith and gives them confidence when he says: “I Am the Bread of Life, I Am the Way, Truth and Life, If you ask anything in my name I will do it, so that the Father be glorified.”
Chapter 15, has some powerful revelations that are simple yet difficult. To the best of my understanding the key message is RELATIONSHIP. It is only in sustained relationship with Jesus Christ, that our life bears meaning, producing the fruit of Love, Truth and Unity within the mission and service of the Church, the sole purpose being to give Glory to the Controller, Creator and Sustainer of all life. (The Father of Jesus Christ and through him our Father).
The present situation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with an unprecedented rise of religious fundamentalism is a matter of grave concern for me not only in relation to my Muslim sisters and brothers and also for the church. Of equal concern is the growing environment of intolerance, arrogance and self-righteousness with a forceful message that our way of life is the best and of absolute truth. This has not only ruptured relationships amongst people with one another but is a stumbling bloc in the act of creation and its integrity, espousing hatred, division, anger, lack of tolerance and violence.
Verse 2 makes me shiver and tremble sometimes in my responsibility as Bishop in the Church of Pakistan and a colleague and brother to you all in the communion. Many a times we seem to be like the branch in the vineyard that does not produce fruit.
There is not much of an outcome of our positive nurturing and maturity in Jesus Christ, his teaching and expectations, when we fail to show love, concern, sacrifice and understanding for our fellow sister, brother, neighbour or colleague.
The true vine enhances our understanding that in spite of the diversity of the branches and their fruit we are related to the One Vine. Our challenge is to be One Body, grafted in the Vine, fulfilling the prayer of Jesus, “May THEY be ONE as I Am ONE with YOU”.
What a beautiful conclusion of the chapter, ‘I call you my Friend, and I have made known to you everything, therefore go and produce fruit, fruit that will last.”
Let us depart with this question and concern, “What is that fruit that will last in the life and witness of the Communion ?”