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For the first time as I was preparing the sermon for Confirmation Sunday, I reflected on the role of the Father in Jesus’ words, “I am the true vine, my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). In Baptism we are connected to Jesus the Vine and receive the spiritual nourishment to grow our faith and bear fruit. The Father as the gardener is intentionally and actively shaping us according to his design and purpose.
At Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia I have seen the most dramatic shaping of trees to bear fruit according to the intent of the gardener. In one area of the conservatory, a number of grape varieties are grafted on to the same vine. Fruit trees are shaped to grow two dimensionally along walls that bear beautiful peaches and nectarines.
If a horticulturist can guide the growth and shape of a vine or tree, just imagine how our heavenly Father can grow and shape us. Using the pruning of repentance and the Word of God and Sacraments, the Father the Gardener will produce fruit in our lives that give Him honor and accomplish his will.
How is the heavenly Father shaping you to bear fruit?
I think the times God has shaped me most have been through "pruning" -- carrying me through difficult times, sometimes having to "cut" away things I couldn't let go of but which were impeding my growth. It hurt sometimes, and I usually couldn't see how it was shaping me until I'd moved past the painful part. ut in hindsight it was obvious -- like stepping back far enough from myself to be able to see the "bigger picture." Right now, He's slowed me down -- because I rarely do that on my own :-) I've already seen 1 or 2 good results from it; I wonder what else He'll teach me before this part is done?