Grafted in Love

Posted on: May 10, 2021, by :

A contemplative reflection based on John 15:1-11

In times of struggle, times of transition, times of change, times of grief or loss – so many regular life experiences – it is good to know we can lean on, or ‘lean into’ a community of support: one or more people who care for us can be a haven for the soul.

This reflection invites you to consider, through four movements, what it might mean for us to be Grafted in Love.  Each movement includes a reading, some thoughts from me, and some questions to facilitate your personal reflection.  You may wish to have some music at hand to play for a few minutes in each of the reflective periods, or you may wish to sit in silence.  However you choose to engage in this contemplative practice, may you breathe, contemplate and rest as you open yourself to the movement of the Spirit that is within you.

I invite you now to centre yourself by taking a few deep breaths and then allowing your breath to settle into its own gentle rhythm as you commence the reflective practice. 

1: Grafted

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower.  He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.  You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me as I abide in you.  Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches. [John 15:1-5a]

The vine and the branches is one of the classic metaphors for the relationship between God and God’s people.  I wonder what it means?  Abide in me as I abide in you. … I am the vine and you are the branches. [vv. 4, 5]  What might it mean to ‘abide in God’?  Do we dare allow ourselves to rest gently, deeply in God’s Spirit?  As Jesus says elsewhere in the gospel, we are worried and anxious about so many things, but our worry does little to address the issues at hand.  What if we could be consistently conscious that our resting in the Spirit, our grafting to the vine, means that everything doesn’t depend upon us, that, in ways we can’t comprehend, the Spirit is at work within us and beyond us, offering hope and assurance, peace and grace in all circumstances.  Perhaps if we could learn to really ‘abide’ in God (however we understand God to be manifest), then we might also be better placed to calmly and confidently address the challenges life throws at us, and better placed to notice and attend to the wonders and delights that creation so freely sends our way.

Do it now.  Picture yourself falling freely and gently into the abiding arms of God, releasing any stress and anxiety, any troubles and worries, as you allow the Spirit of the Universe to share the burden with you. 

  • When or where do I feel most grounded or at peace?
  • When or where do I feel least grounded or most restless?
  • What might God be saying to me about being grounded?

2: Trusting  

Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.  Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.  [John 15:5b-8]

Once we have grasped the concept of the vine and the branches, when we accept that we are grafted to the vine, we will be acutely aware that we are not alone.  We are not the only branch!  It is a powerful thing to be part of a living community.  Whether it’s a crowd at the footy, a group marching for a cause, or a congregation gathered for worship, it makes a huge difference to know we are not alone.  Being in community allows us to share the load, and to amplify the delights.  It really does make a difference.

The difference is even more profound if the community is comprised of people we can trust, people we know we can depend on.  We need trusting and trusted relationships in our life and it is important to appropriately cultivate them.  Close friends, respected mentors, intimate partners – these trusted relationships are essential for our emotional health and wellbeing, and for the development of resilience.

And it works the other way, too.  As well as knowing there are people we can trust, it does us good to know that we are trusted by others.

To be properly ‘grafted’ in the vine requires the cultivation of trusting relationships – to trust and to be trusted.  Take some time now to identify and give thanks for the trusting relationships in your life.

  • In whom do I trust?
  • Who trusts in me?
  • What might God be saying to me about trust?

3: Loved

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.  10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.  [John 15:9-11]

Abide in my love, says Jesus in the gospel reading.  To know you are loved is perhaps the greatest of all human needs.  In Maslow’s hierarchy, the need to be loved empowers the highest need of self-actualisation – without love we may never realise our full potential: the experience of being loved lifts us above the messiness of life, amplifies our joy, and undergirds our self-esteem.  So many song-writers know this well – love lifts us up where we belong … … all you need is love … … dance me to the end of love … … so many love songs.

It is good to be loved!  And it is even ‘gooder’ (to borrow a word from the Toyota commercial) to know that you are loved by the Creative Spirit of the universe, to know that the force at the centre of all creation is love itself, and that that force of love is directed at you and reflected in you.  Abide in my love … so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete, says Jesus.

Grafted, trusting, loved – it’s such a simple recipe, but it is the very heart of our faith and our practice, and it’s our pathway to deep satisfaction and profound joy in life.

  • When or where do I feel most loved?
  • When or where do I feel most anxious?
  • What might God be saying to me about being loved?

4: Conclusion

Perhaps a word you have read, or a thought that has popped into your mind, warrants further reflection?  Take this final opportunity, in a moment of silence, to sit with that word or that thought, and listen to what the Spirit might be saying to you through it.  You may even decide to write that word on a card or in your phone ort on a rock or something similar, carrying it with you during the week ahead to encourage your continuing reflection.

To close your period of contemplation, offer yourself the following blessing:

  • In the stillness, see the wonder of God’s art,
  • In the silence, feel Christ’s presence,
  • In the sunlight, watch the Holy Spirit dance,
  • In the darkness, find faith’s essence.
  • And the blessing of the creative, restorative, sustaining Spirit be upon you always. Amen.

David Brooker

2nd May 2021

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