Daily Devotions
 
Daily Devotion
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Daily Devotion

Your Name is “Branch”

Joyce is a good gardener. She knows how to plant, fertilize, and otherwise care for flowers, shrubs, and trees. I, on the other hand, kill air fern.

Our daughter and new son-in-law recently bought a charming, vintage 1918 home, but it needs quite a bit of TLC. They are learning why a popular 1986 movie starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long was titled “The Money Pit.” Since this is their first house and they have no previous home ownership experience, they regularly reach out to us to ask for advice on how to make a repair or how to care for the extensive gardens around the property.

Gardener Joyce has been teaching our would-be “Denny McKeowns” how to care for plants. It’s good to see them take what was in disarray and put it back in order; to see what was dying come back to life. Long-neglected shrubs and rose bushes have been pruned, resulting in amazing regeneration. We have a very happy daughter and son-in-law.

Pruning away dead or diseased branches has positive effects for plants. Sad to say, but it can be similar for a family, a business, or even a church. Sometimes they are healthier when a disruptive member leaves. And to be fair, sometimes the pastor can be that person. Yet, being torn apart over disagreements, hurt feelings, failure to forgive, or any of the things that lead us to separate from one another is not what Jesus desires for those who would follow him. In verse 5 of John 15, he says:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

This is a statement about staying connected to Jesus and to one another. Jesus, the vine, is the essential part of the relationship because it is the vine that both supports and provides life-giving nourishment to the rest of the plant. Without the vine, branches cannot bear fruit, let alone survive. Without Jesus and his life-giving forgiveness and grace, we wither and die spiritually, meaning spiritual fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23) will not be produced. A spiritually dead church, just like a dead branch, is not a pretty picture.

So, “abide in me,” says Jesus. “Abide” is a key word here. It means draw your nourishment from him. Remain part of him, which means we must remain connected to one another because we are all part of the same plant. Let his love and grace flow into and through you, so that you may live with one another in the peace God intended and work together to produce much holy fruit for the sake of the world.

During these days of intense political polarization, bickering about the pandemic, and disagreement about what is true or false, it is good to remember Jesus nicknamed us “Branches” as a reminder that we are part of him, which means we are part of one another.

Prayer: Precious Jesus, faced with so many things that threaten to pull us apart, abide with us and hold us fast to your heart that we may draw from you the life you want to give.

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