“By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
One of the things that has brought Peter great joy during his chemo treatment and doubles as great occupational therapy is coloring. He has superhero books, books with pictures of famous cities and every Sunday, we’ve been printing out coloring pages related to the readings. These coloring pages have been prompting some excellent conversations. Yesterday, as we colored our vines and branches from John’s Gospel, and we talked about ourselves as the branches, Peter wanted to know the difference between "pruning" and "cutting." "Sounds like the same thing," Peter asked, "and why would God want to cut someone off?" I tried, very inarticulately, to explain that often times, we choose to cut ourselves off from others and from God by our sins, especially in the way we treat other people. "Like when you yell at Katie?" Peter asked. Of course, I confidently positioned my fatherly lessons to his sister as pruning, so that Katie can bear fruit. Peter’s brain cancer hasn’t affected his cognition. "Are you sure your yells are always to get her to grow?"
As I played the tape of my parenting over the last week and thought about some of the experiences I’ve had in ministry, I couldn’t help but think about what has defined the difference that Peter asked about regarding pruning and cutting. Am I trying to cut someone off or am I trying to help someone grow? Both might involve some difficult conversations. Both might result in some hurt feelings. The bottom line is that both involve pain. Through my reflection, I decided that the difference really lies in one’s intentions and approaches. Are my responses and perhaps challenges to others reactive, selfish, and with the goal to hurt, to win, or to conquer despite my best rationalizations otherwise? Or are my goals and methods based in a desire for the person to grow in abundance? Looking at my actual shrubs, I pray I am better at my pruning when it comes to my own habits and interactions with others. Prayers that you may bear much fruit and help others grow in abundance this week.