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Vine and Branches

Spiritual Practice - Vine and Branches

Vine and branches is a scripture meditation on the vine and branches metaphor used in John 15. It is a way of deepening our relationship with Christ through creative reflection on the word. 

The Practice

Below you will find four options for going into depth with this scripture text. Read the options, and choose the one that best meets the needs of the group. If you feel the group would benefit from additional work with this text, you may spend several sessions using the different approaches suggested. 

Read the scripture reflection. Spend the remainder of the “deepening” time going into depth with this scripture text. Use one or more of the suggestions below to assist the group in this process. 

Use the lectio divina process for individuals or groups. Read the text in the four suggested prayer modes (lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplation) allowing a few minutes for the group to meditate and pray after each reading. Allow time at the end of the exercise for journaling and/or discussion about the group’s experience with this scripture. 

Read the scripture the first time, asking group members to close their eyes and let an image or a sense of the vine and branches come into their minds. 

  • What images do they see or sense as the scripture is read? 
  • What does the vine in their minds look like? 
  • Is it green or some other color, healthy or unhealthy, moist or dry, producing fruit or barren? If there is fruit, what does it look like? 
  • Are there colors, fragrances, temperatures, sounds, or other awarenesses that come to them as they enter the scripture with their senses?

Read the scripture a second time, asking the group members to keep their eyes closed and continue praying with the vine image. 

  • How do they feel about the vine and branches they see? 
  • Invite them to prayerfully converse with God about feelings, questions, or insights that come to them from their meditation image.  
  • Take the meditation an additional step (if appropriate for the group). Ask participants to see and feel themselves as part of the vine. Where are they located in the maze of branches and leaves? How do they feel about the connection between themselves and Jesus? God’s Spirit?   
  • Invite group members to experience themselves being watered and nurtured by the flow of Spirit. What do they feel flowing to them from the vine that fills the dry, empty places within? How does it feel to open to the flow of God’s life and joy? 

Note to the Group Leader

A green, vine-like plant may be a helpful symbol for working with this scripture.

Scripture for Reflection

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers. —John 15:1–6 NRSV