I love the “I am” statements of Jesus not only because of the metaphors we get for God, but also those we get for ourselves. We are the branches of Jesus. Connected to one another through the ultimate source of love, we offer shade, support, and nourishment. Rooted in a secure foundation, we reach up and out, toward other branches and other trees. What is a vine without branches?
Today’s world boasts about endless connection, yet many of us feel the opposite. Even worse than feeling disconnected from others, many queer people have felt disconnected from ourselves. A parent labels my gender inauthentic to who I understand myself to be. A pastor hands me a list of relationship rules impossible for me to follow. A school doesn’t provide a bathroom I can use. I begin to doubt my worth and my identity. As my leaves wither and my fruit shrinks, I may seek out a faith community attempting to reconnect with the vine, only to face rejection, exclusion, or threat.
The good news of the gospel is that people aren’t the vine; Jesus is. If anyone tries to cut us off, they’re pursuing the impossible. They can do nothing. We abide in God, and God abides in us. No one can de-vine us, because the Divine always dwells within.
Prayer: God the Vine, at the core of who we are, we find you. Comfort, nurture, and ground us; and lead us into forests that will strengthen our connection with you, with one another, and with our truest selves.
Rev. Jeremy Bork is the Director of Programming & Communications at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, an ordained minister in the RCA, and a spiritual director in training. He lives in Minneapolis with his husband Ian and their two cats Richie and Fern.