Summary: As christians we are not called to bare fruit but to abide in Christ, Fruit is a natural product of a connected person.

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Tomato Sandwiches

John 15:1-8

I don’t know a lot about vines and grapes. I once had a neighbor that had some. He was making wine in his garage. That was pretty aggressive for a guy in Birmingham Alabama.

The first year he had the vines I don’t guess he got any grapes. In the fall after his 2nd year I thought he had given up. I noticed a big pile of vines out by the road. I could see up on the hill that the vines were cut back to practically nothing.

As for me, I guess I am plant challenged. I have never had any luck with any vegetables or flowers except one year I had a couple of rose bushes that did well until they died over the winter.

I don’t know how many of you know anything about grapes, but I know that some of you know tomatoes. I have family that knows them very well. They are able to plan their tomato year so that from early in the summer to fairly late in the fall they have fresh ones always coming in. You can go by there any time in the summer and have a fresh homegrown tomato sandwich.

When I tried to grow tomatoes, I thought I was doing well. The plants shot up, they were so green. They must have been 4 feet tall. They really grew lots of branches and leaves. They looked so healthy. But they did not seem to want to actually make many tomatoes. In fact we only got a hand full of small, puny, hardly even red pieces of fruit, or vegetable… So my experience was that I had lots of green and not much red.

After my failure my in-laws gave me lots of advice.

I was told, when the plants are transplanted you need to nip off the lowest leaves and plant them in deep. Just the top leaves showing.

As they grow, the little suckers that grow at the junction of the main branches and the stem need to be taken off. This is the same type of techniques a pruning. It is to keep the plant from wasting it’s resources on extra foliage.

They also told me about mysterious invisible creatures called nematodes and ways of dealing with them. I almost sat outside all night waiting to catch those little guys.

The folks were my in-laws and I started to worry they were pulling my leg.

Nanny told me you need to prune a little all summer long and then just before the first frost, something you find in the farmers almanac and a feeling in your bones, you need to prune the plant for the last harvest. She said that the secret of pruning, is to trick the plant into thinking that it is dying so it will produce great amounts of fruit.

Stripping the leaves off the plant makes the rest of the small tomatoes suddenly grow and mature.

I didn’t know so much was involved in getting tomatoes for a few sandwiches. There is a lot of stuff you have to know. Stuff you have to do right in the first place and along the way. And then at the end of the growing season, you gotta practically kill the plant to get the fruit to grow and mature fully.

The vinedresser in our scripture today has a lot going on. A vinedresser is taking care of a whole vineyard or a big field of tomato plants.

But where are we in this scripture? What are we supposed to be doing?

At first glance it seems like we are to produce fruit. If that is the first thing that came to your mind you have been affected by this world. You have bought in to the produce or get out of the way mindset of this world.

Most people believe success is proven by the growth of the company or club or Church.

It is really easy to get pulled in by the world. We have moved into an instant society. Instant coffee, instant popcorn, instant pudding, all comes down to the life style of wanting it now.

Do some of our remember the first microwaves and how things tasted a little strange when cooked in one. Things we cooked did not look as good because there was no browning of the appearance. Mom had one but was sure it would never really take off except to heat liquids and reheat leftovers. Now that is about the only appliance that she uses to fix dinner and I can’t say my family is any different.

We have stopped noticing that things taste different, primarily because we want it fast. We have stuff to do, and the world had produced products that fill our demands for convenience.

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