"Bear fruit in every good work." - Col. 1:10b
Crouched over the vines, we looked for red. Scanning rows of strawberries, the lesson was not to pick too soon. There's a moment in the ripeness of fresh fruit, and at the right time, we do well to pluck.
As a little one, close to the ground, I fished hungrily through the leaves. But after a while, I grew weary, and at some point I'd switch from plucking to collecting. Standing (or sitting) in the center of the row, arms out, I'd await everyone else's deposits to my basket, with the thrill of wonder to see what they would share.
"Bear fruit" the Apostle says.
Our actions do this bearing of fruit. In all that we do, we hold a basket of fruit into which we and the others around us make an offering.
At the end of the day, we take stock, we check the yield. Our assessment isn't neutral; we need what we bear. It is the spiritual food on which we survive.
With good fruit, we know exactly what to do. We are thankful. We eat lustily and are strengthened for the journey. But what do we do with the fruit that disappoints?
Like the friend we desperately need who just . . . vanishes. Or the confidant who pushes advice we neither need nor want. Worse still, the one who betrays us. This is all indigestible fruit.
"Bear fruit in every good work," Paul says. But not all works are good. Not all people are prepared to hand us the fruit we want or need at the moment.
Pray. Look in your basket. See the fruit of God's people. With God's grace, know what to do with each piece.
God, help us to bear good fruit. When we don't, help us to know better than to share it. And, when others give us fruit that we cannot take, help us to know better than to eat it. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Minister of The Table, United Church of Christ of La Mesa, California.