Tom and I are now at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg Virginia still trying to get our clocks turned around from the trip to Australia. This is definitely not the best way to model a balanced way of life though I am really looking forward to our time here.
Part of my morning Bible reading was John 15:16 “… go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” and I found myself reflecting on this in light of the fact that I spent the weekend anxiously checking out the dried beans and the stored winter squash. Out in the garden I looked over the leeks and collard greens breathing a sigh of relief that they are still flourishing and should continue to do so over the winter.
It struck me that most of the fruit that I harvest from the garden does not last. Unless we pump it up with preservatives and harmful chemicals most of the summer harvest needs to be eaten immediately or it goes bad. They are not available over the winter unless we fly them in from half a world away.
Winter crops are different. Winter squash (especially the orange ones) carrots, turnips, dried beans and lentils – all those wonderful storage crops are designed by our creator God to last through the cold and fruitless seasons of winter. they may not be the most beautiful fruit in the garden but they are especially created to bear fruit that lasts until the next year’s harvest.
Fortunately they are also the crops that are rich in the vitamins A, D & C we need to boost our immune systems and the carbohydrates we need to replenish our brain’s serotonin levels which decline with fewer sunny hours. Your cravings for carbohydrate-loaded comfort foods are your body’s cries for more serotonin.
Most of us these days don’t have to rely on seasonal crops for our nutrition and so are unaware of the importance of crops that last. But there are still some parts of the world in which malnutrition is seasonal just as it was for most of our ancestors throughout human history.
Jesus’ audience would have been very aware of the need for fruit that lasts. Many of their families would have experienced lean winter seasons in which there were not enough crops to see them through until the next harvest. Some of them might have seen their children die because of malnutrition. They knew and enjoyed the good summer harvests of fresh fruits and vegetables but I am sure that they appreciated the nourishing stored fruits of winter even more.
Bearing fruit that lasts is a huge responsibility for those of us that follow Jesus. It means we are responsible to provide nutrition for ourselves and for others that will nourish our bodies, souls and spirits during those lean and hungry months when there is no new fruit being produced.
Most of us want to be summer fruit however. We want to give people the short sweet burst of flavour provided by a delicious peach or mango.
Thank God for the winter fruit however – these are the ones that have ensured that the followers of Jesus still grow and flourish 2,000 years after he lived.