August 04, 2007

Those Little Papers

John 15:1-8

"No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine." John 15:4


A young woman sat down to speak with the receptionist in the bank lobby, and with an innocent, eager smile she said, "I'd like to get some of those little papers with my name on them that I can use instead of money." The receptionist eventually figured out that the "little papers" this customer wanted were checks. The customer had no concept of how a checking account worked: she didn't realize a check was drawn on a bank account, against money that was in the account. She thought it was enough just to have "those little papers."

In Jesus' parable about the vine and branches there's something just as absurd as this naive request from a bank customer. Jesus pictures a vine on which each branch exists to produce fruit. But some branches decide they want to be independent of the vine. So they stop accepting the nourishment from the vine, and some of them even cut off their attachment with the vine completely and head out on their own.

The absurdity is that we can't head out on our own. Just as we need money in a bank account in order to write a valid check, so also we need Christ's support and steady supply of resources in order to be productive disciples. We are only branches, and Jesus is our vine. We are nothing without him; we can accomplish nothing unless we remain in him.

Holy Spirit, give us humility and wisdom to know that we depend on our Lord Jesus for everything and that we find fulfillment only in staying connected to him. Amen.

About the author — Fred Bultman

Fred Bultman began a “second career” as a pastor in 1997, after a first career in the banking business.  He served as pastor to congregations in the U.S. and Canada. In retirement, he continues to enjoy sharing in the ministry of the churches in and around his home in Fremont, Michigan.

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