When I brought up the pruned tree I saw at Wernersville, my spiritual director went to John 15. So when I looked up fruit in my concordance to prepare for my Tuesday night gathering at church, it became one of five that I gathered up for the evening. Yes, five passages in an hour was ambitious, but it worked.
we talked about a society that was commanded by God to celebrate and give thanks for harvests and how our own no longer celebrates harvests (Exodus 23: 14-19). We talked about the pastry chef who changes his menu with the seasons and the complaints he gets from customers. We talked about a psalmist (128) whose blessing is for a family that is fruitful. A parable from Jeremiah (17: 7-8) compared a person with God to a fruit tree planted by a stream. Fruitful even in droughts.
Then we went to Jesus being the vine and we being the branches. Yesterday, while teaching a workshop on the spirituality of growing your own food, I read that passage from John again. The man to my left catches two things and holds on.... He is upset that we are commanded to do something and that we will be thrown into a fire if we don't.
So I spoke about being commanded to stay connected to God, to be nourished, to love others and thus to be fruitful. I also said that a plant with dead or diseased branches should be pruned and it is fine practice to burn those branches. God does not want to burn us, God wants to prune us. God can see the things inside our hearts which separates us from loving others and God desires that we stay a branch of the vine so that we can be pruned. Then we moved to Paul.
It is in Galatians (5: 23-25) that we are told what those fruits will be. Once pruned, the spirit will produce the fruits seen as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.
So may the love of God prune what is preventing these things from happening, and may we be fruitful. And may we be aware of what is growing in our locality, both the fruits of the labor of gardeners and farmers, and the fruits of the spirit.