Summer is such a sweet time of the year. The cherry tree behind our house has bright red, tart cherries. The orchards around Hagerstown will be advertising fresh peaches and watermelons. These fresh fruits hit the spot with delight and satisfaction on a hot summer day.
At the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Tampa on July 11-15, Brethren will be thinking about fruit. In John’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of fruit to explain the works of Christian living when a person is connected to Christ the vine. You remember the passage, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit.” As branches, we must be strongly connected to the vine in order to produce those tart little cherries and refreshing watermelons.
Before Audrey and I moved into our home last year, our cherry tree had a limb that had been weighed down with snow and ice so that it began to crack. The perfect, seamless connection between branch and trunk had been damaged. The branch tried during the summer to produce, but its leaves never become a full green and the cherries never produced. What had once been the cause of great delight had withered and was eventually cut off. This year the tree is healthy and full again.
Are you feeling any cracks in your spiritual connection to God? Sometimes I feel like we try our hardest to keep going, going, going with the good Christian works we know we should be doing. All the while cracks and strain are placed on our spiritual relationship to the source of goodness. We may still be giving the Sunday School lesson, shaking the hands of guests as Sunday greeters, lending hands at camp or work camps, or listening attentively to a sermon. But are these works delightful and satisfying as good fruit should be? Are you bearing fruit that displays the refreshing, compassionate nature of God. It is very possible to bear fruit that shows signs of spiritual exhaustion.
July is a quieter month as far as church activity. Instead of rushing to bear more and more fruit, take the time to tend to your connection to the vine. Seek spiritual refreshment by engaging scripture for no other reason than personal enrichment. Seek spiritual refreshment by engaging trusted Christian friends with genuinely faithful questions. Seek spiritual refreshment by setting time aside to be in quiet prayer.
Someone who receives a good work of God should be able to sense the delight as if they just bit into a summer peach or a tart cherry. Be connected to the vine and bear good fruit.