When it comes to home improvement projects, I follow an ironclad philosophy: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Which probably explains why the lanterns adorning either side of our front door remained in place for several years past their prime term-of-service period.
Hey, they still lit up when I flicked the switch…so why mess with a good thing?
Upon closer inspection though, the two fixtures offered something of a case study in the adage “rust never sleeps.” In recent days, it became more and more clear that it was time for the old lanterns to go – a point that was underscored when I removed the first one from the portico…and it fell apart in my hands.
So: It’s out with the old…in with the new on our front porch.
Only not everything involved with this project was new, I realized. The most essential part – the illuminating, invigorating part – remained exactly the same: the wiring; the juice. Without it, neither the old lanterns nor the new could hope to shed light on anything.
As I wrestled with the Romex last week, I whispered a silent prayer of gratitude for the electrician who had completed that essential part of my project decades ago. Wiring a house, I knew, is a task far above my paygrade. But by taking advantage of this long-embedded expertise, I was able to complete the lantern replacement without too much of a hassle.
And this is not unlike the gift we have in Jesus – as we learn in the Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Easter. In essence, Jesus promises to provide the juice for our life’s projects:
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.
It’s almost like Jesus anticipates the rust we’ll encounter, too – the decay in our spirits produced by sin and selfishness. But he knows our heavenly Father has a plan for just such a situation:
…my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
In the end, then, there’s really no excuse for standing pat in our old ways of doing things (or NOT doing things). Though our hearts may condemn us as not being up to the task, “God is greater than our hearts…” But by staying connected to the Vine, we just might find that we have a chance to offer a flicker of light to the world.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.