… But the progress is visible.
For my upcoming DMin class on Anglican Theology, I’ve been knee deep in the controversies of Anglicanism for the past several weeks. One that continues to flare up time and time again is the division between low-church-evangelicals and high-church-anglo-catholics. Tied up in these debates are our understanding of the Church, our treatment of the sacraments, our vision of the Kingdom, and, at least for the evangelicals, our ability to witness to a true conversion experience. That moment when grace, amazing grace, changed your life forever.
I get that. Even though I was raised in the church and have no real recollection of a time when God was not present in my life, I can still tell you about the car ride up Manheim Pike when I realized that through Jesus, God was inviting me into a constant relationship with him. However, because of my life-long experience of slow and steady faith, as well as my near constant sneezing because of the pecan tree in my front yard, I understand that fruit doesn’t just appear out nowhere. It takes water. It takes sun. It takes suitable soil. It takes pollination. And most of all, it takes time for fruit to grow.
Fruit doesn’t grow in an instant, but the progress toward fruit is visible and measurable. Bud becomes flower, flowers get pollinated, fruit begins to develop and in due time, the fruit ripens to perfection. When the progress is not visible, we know something is wrong. The same is true in the life of faith. When progress stagnates, reverses, or is invisible, something is missing. In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is clear that most times, when fruit production slows, it is because the branch has departed from the vine. To clarify the metaphor, when we aren’t producing fruit, it is because we aren’t abiding in/with Jesus.
Fruit takes time, and care, to flourish. Jesus offers us both.