For Sunday, May 3rd, 5th Sunday after Easter
READ: John 15.1-8 “vinegrower”
There’s a certain kind of Hebrew verb of which I’ve always been fond. Verbs, you’ll remember from elementary school grammar, generally describe the action or state of being of the subject of a sentence. This type of Hebrew verb – a hiphil – is about causing things to happen. You might think of it as a behind-the-scenes mover of the pieces or setter of scenarios.
The “vinegrower” struck me when I first sat down with this passage. How many times have I read these verses? Maybe it’s the translation I’m using (New Revised Standard Version), but I don’t recall ever seeing that word before. Even as I type it here, my computer does not recognize it as one word.
It’s true that the New Testament is written primarily in Greek, not Hebrew. Yet, as I turned the word over in my mind and began to take it down into my heart, my thoughts continued along the causative nature of the Hebrew hiphil verbs. “Vinegrower” – not farmer or keeper of the vineyard, but the very life force within the vine itself that flows with nutrients, the sun and photosynthesis, the clouds and water. What things can the farmer do? Plant, prune, watch and wait, but not actually cause the fruit to come into being. The farmer can only help prepare optimal conditions and then has to let go, trust and wait. The only thing we can do is “abide,” being faithful in the present.
RESPOND: God, help us to remember that you are the cause of all good things. Forgive us when our striving – even for justice and righteousness — becomes forgetful, doubtful and mistrusting. Be merciful to us when we forget that we are not gods.
Texts like this can be confusing – work hard, but not too hard; do everything in your power, but remember you’re not God. Where’s the line exactly? When I’m focused primarily on the future – and feeling frustration about my inability to make the pieces move where I want them – I know I’ve crossed the line. Likewise, I know that when my efforts have become excessive and I’m pushing too hard all on my own, I’ve crossed the line. Do you know what your own red flags are? How can you let them serve as reminders to “abide” instead?
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
1 John 4:7-21
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide by Audrey Hindes for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.