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It was a strong vine, surging with health and life.

The vine dresser moved along the length of the vine, carefully fingering each branch. He had come to know these branches through the years. He knew their needs, and tended to them with the love of a father.

He stopped. He reached in and fingered a brittle branch, concern growing on his brow. No good, he decided. This one is gone; no fruit. It’s not abiding in the vine. He cut it away and tossed it into the pile ready for burning.

He continued down the vine, stopping again after a few moments. Why, this branch is struggling, he observed. He carefully pushed aside the growing fruit showing signs of distress. Ah, he said with a smile. There is still life here—just a few sucker shoots I need to prune. Tenderly, he snipped away the little sprouts that were draining away the rich nutrients from the vine that the branch so desperately needed to produce fruit.

Just as he turned back toward the vine, something caught the vine dresser’s eye. A broad grin spread across his face as he moved forward toward the large cluster of bold, rich, fruit. He plucked off one grape and flipped it into his mouth, the sweet juices filling his senses.

I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5)

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.