This is a tale of two grapevines.

A number of years ago Emory planted two grapevines. The first vine was a Concord seedless that produced succulent grapes, and we both loved them. Every time Emory passed by during the grape season he plucked great clusters, and had a feast. I ventured out to the vine occasionally. But the weather was not always cooperative, so sometimes the grapes were scarce, or there were none at all, so we grumbled, and he threatened to chop the vine down.

The second vine was a regular Concord grape that bore fruit that was bursting with flavor, but they were filled with seeds. Emory just stuffed his mouth with the fruit, chewed on them until he separated the meat of the grape from the seeds, then he spit the seeds out. I liked the taste of the grapes but I didn’t like the seeds. I detested it when I crunched the hard little rascals and the bitter taste mixed with the sweetness of the fruit. I didn’t want to spit everywhere, and I wasn’t about to swallow them. I let him know that I preferred seedless ones. But grapes are very nourishing, so I missed a lot of good taste and nutrition because I didn’t want to spit out the seeds. And, as with the seedless grapevine, the weather was not always cooperative and sometimes there were no grapes at all, so Emory complained and threatened to chop down the second vine

In John 15 Jesus gives us the parable of the vine. He says He is the vine, and we, His Church, are the branches. I like to think of the clusters of grapes as the individual church congregations, and the grapes are the members. The seeds are the bitter faults and pain in all our lives.

Spiritually speaking, the first vine is a myth. There is no such thing in the church family as a grape without seeds. Every church family is like the clusters on the second vine. Just as I shied away from the grapes with seeds I sometimes shy away from folks who have irritating faults and weaknesses. Instead of enjoying the taste and nourishment of the grapes and spitting the seeds out (overlooking their faults), I miss out on opportunities to serve and enjoy the good in others. And when I complain about the seeds, I am complaining against Jesus, because He is the Vine, the source of all life, both grapes and churches.

From now on I am going to eat the grapes and spit out the seeds without complaining about the vine. “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

–Rebecca Somoskey