It’s always good to set aside time to spend with God, and one of my favourite places these days is the manse greenhouse. There I can sit and read and pray, and also watch the vine grow.
There has been a grape vine growing in the greenhouse for most of our time here at Liberton, but not all have lasted. The first one we inherited from my predecessor, John Cameron, and its rich black grapes were often used to decorate the harvest table. Sadly, it didn’t survive being dug up and relocated (we had discovered its roots growing up through our neighbour’s floorboards).
It was followed by one donated by another neighbour, who had taken a cutting from their own vine. It grew well for a few years, also producing fruit for the harvest table, until it developed grey mould. Vine number three was inherited from a church member, and was very fruitful until our greenhouse fell down around it. Our fourth vine – a gift from one of our members – flourished until the spring drought of a couple of years ago.
Our current vine (number five) was a gift from the same long-suffering church member. We planted it last year, and of all the vines it has received the most tender loving care. It shot up in its first year, and is growing well as I write, but it takes a couple of years before a vine will produce fruit, and there are still no signs of grapes.
Does that mean I no longer care for it? Of course not!
All of which reminds me of a famous passage in the Old Testament book of the prophet Habakkuk…
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. (3.17-18)
Just as I am looking forward to the day when our vine produces its first grapes, so I am looking forward to the day when our church will burst into fullness of life again. But in the meantime, let us continue to rejoice in the Lord who tends us and cares for us. Let us be joyful in God our Saviour, just as he continues to be joyful in us.