Today is Day 5 of The Week for Christian Unity started in 1908.  We look at John 15:1-15 this year to focus our ponderings.  So far we have pondered being chosen – God comes to us we do not work our way to God.  As we abide in that reality we see the chosen-ness in “the other” also.  We grow and hopefully grow with others.  Being with others always involves differences and so the need for forgiveness, foot washing.  Corporate prayer draws us together before our maker.  “The other” is a mirror for me of my strengths and my weaknesses.  When I hurt my friend, I reflect on who I am.  Prayer is for requests but it also opens the door for transparency about our need to reform – pruning. 

         “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.  He cut off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

Growth in unity is also growth and transformation within as well as without.  I am not much of a gardener but I do love to plant a couple tomatoes in my hedge each year.  I put the cage around them to protect them and then I have been taught to pinch off the little suckers that sprout in the joints.  Those are like rabbit trails the plant goes down but they sap the plants energy, bear little, and the plant lives in a tangled mess.  Staying balanced and not chasing rabbit trails is a big challenge.  As Moses comes to the end of his life he challenges the people to submit to God’s will as revealed in Scripture, in prayer, in fellowship.  Truth is not something we must climb to heaven to find or descend to the depths.  It lays before us life and death.  Transformation of ourselves to be “our better selves” is possible.

         Each year I ponder a spiritual discipline goal that will guide me in growth.  Last year I thought I would try to read the book of Proverbs every month – 31 chapters meant a chapter a day – and there would be some point of wisdom to chew on.  I did not meet my goal but it gave me direction.  Others start the day by grounding themselves in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12.  The blessings at the end of the struggles encourage.  We are at the beginning of a new year, a new presidency, and a new decade.  Let us be open to being pruned so that we might bear more fruit and be a blessing to others.

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