Daily Devotion for April 4, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Schubert's Ave Maria, sung angelically here by Barbara Bonney (in German).
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
A Prayer for Lent
Father in Heaven, the light of your truth bestows sight to the darkness of sinful eyes. May this season of repentance bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness and the gift of Your light. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
~ C. S. Lewis
John 15:1-10 (NSV)
The Vine and the Branches
ďI am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
ďI am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Fatherís glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
ďAs the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Fatherís commands and remain in his love.
Notes on the Scripture
This is an odd time for Jesus to be teaching a parable; it isn't characteristic of the Gospel of John in the first place, and it certainly isn't characteristic of Christ's teachings at the end of his ministry. His arrest is only hours away.
It is a reminder to his disciples of the importance of faith, a refresher course, to keep the basic requirement of faith in the forefront of their minds during the coming tempestuous days. The message is similar to a number of other parables, but it emphasizes the connection between Christ and his followers.
The parable itself is simple enough and doesn't need much explanation. If we stay faithful, we can feed on Christ's power; we will be connected to the life giving roots. Although he doesn't say it, Christ repeatedly likened his spirit to water; and clearly, water is what a branch cut off from a vine lacks and why it dies.
Two other aspects of the parable are worth special mention. The sense of connection that exists between those who believe in Christ — the church which will form after Christ's death and ascension — gives a message of unity between all believers. We all feed from the same vine.
Also, the vine brings back memories of Matthew 1 and the passage in Isaiah 11:1 — "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." (An old depiction of the "tree of Jesse" is pictured below, from a medieval manuscript.) Now Christ tells us that the prophecy is about to come to final fulfillment. It is the right bookend to the Hebrew Messiah prophecy; the law has been fulfilled.