From the General Secretary: Grape Growing
By Tom De Vries
It seemed like a modest thought: to Google “how to grow grapes from seeds.” WikiHow gave me 10 simple (or not so simple) steps:
- Choose the right variety (there are thousands of options).
- Obtain the grape seeds (purchase them or get them from a friend).
- Ensure the seeds are viable (firm seeds are better, and if you put them in water, viable seeds sink).
- Prepare the seeds (they need to be washed, you don’t want dirty seeds...but don’t you put them in dirt?!).
- Stratify your seeds (let them sit in the ground over the winter to prepare them for the germination process; you can accelerate the process with a refrigerator).
- Plant your seeds (they like it warm and moist, but not too wet).
- Transplant your seedlings (they want bigger pots when they get to three inches, and they want to go outside when they hit 12 inches).
- Plant your vines in the ground (lots of sun, good drainage, about eight feet apart).
- Properly support your grapes (you will need a trellis or an arbor, maybe some wire, too).
- Take proper care of your plants, and prepare to wait (up to three years until they produce fruit).
In John 15, when Jesus talks about grape growing, it seems simple—painful, but simple. When you read about it on the Internet it seems long and involved, with a lot of waiting. Yet why should we think that transformation is simple? Or that it should be quick? Or that it should be easy?
Jesus provides directions for the challenge of growing from a seed to a fruit-producing part of the vine:
1. Our position is critical: connected to the vine, to Jesus Christ.
2. Don’t try to bear fruit by yourself.
3. Don’t undervalue pruning.
4. Bear fruit. Bear fruit that lasts.
It is a significant transformation that takes place from seed to fruit. It begins with a kernel with potential, and transforms into a life-giving branch that is connected to the vine. We recognize the wise and gentle hand of the Gardener, who helps us grow and mature into branches that bear fruit.
Cultivating transformation in Christ is this kind of transformational experience. It is recognizing the miraculous work of God in the process—moving us from potential to fruitfulness—and welcoming the change that happens within us and through us.
As we engage in the journey of Transformed and Transforming, I am excited to see the many lives that will be changed, growing from seed to fruit-bearing branches; to hear the hundreds of stories of people who will be connected with Jesus and experience change like they have never experienced before; to observe a movement of covenant people who are putting their faith into action because the relationship they share empowers them to live and love like the One they follow.
We are venturing forward with a humble proposal: to radically follow Christ in mission together, being the transformed people of God who are willing to be God’s transforming agents in our world. It will take time. It will require our best effort. There will be pain. It will be fruitful. It will be marked by love and joy. It will bring God glory.
Tom De Vries is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.