Rev. Willie Rosin
Rev. Willie Rosin
Pastor Willie Rosin serves with the congregation of Zion Lutheran Church in Muscatine. In addition to congregational ministry, he enjoys spending time making music, gardening, and all things outdoors with his wife, Jennifer, and their five children; Grace, Belle, Lydia, Ezra, and Abner.

Muscatine Living

“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.”

This time of year, I tend my garden several times a week. Several years ago, I started using a trellising method called the Florida weave. Most tomato varieties are really more of a vine that will grow almost indefinitely. So, I started treating them like vines. This method involves driving in fence posts and spacing two or three plants between the posts and then building a trellis with baling twine as the vine grows, weaving the twine in an alternating pattern which both supports the vine and permits easy pruning and harvesting.

Once the plant starts vining, I prune off all branches and leaves within a foot of the ground to help control soil borne diseases. I focus on pruning off all extra foliage and branches that do not produce fruit. Why? Because tomato leaves are not delicious. I want the fruit. I want BLTs, Caprese salad, and tomatoes for canning.

The point of the growing vine is fruitfulness. The vine produces many branches that do not bear fruit. While the plant needs some foliage to fuel growth and fruitfulness through the miracle of photosynthesis, not every branch or leaf is needed.

In life and ministry, this metaphor of the vine and goal of fruitfulness that Jesus provides is still relevant, and I think of it every time I prune my tomatoes. The goal of ministry, both personal and congregational, is to produce fruit. The point is not to have a gigantic plant, which is what happens when nothing is pruned. I feed the plants with fertilizer, provide water when needed, and give them a space with plenty of sunlight. I simply assist them in what is already an excellent growing environment and pruning helps focus the energy of the plant to producing fruit instead of more foliage.

Life and ministry are not always about numbers or possessions or lots of money. The life of a Christian and a congregation of Christians is about producing fruit. God has provided us with the gifts and call to share the gospel with the world around us. Fruitfulness is measured by the lives changed by the good news of the gospel. Sometimes our focus on producing more foliage and branches which bear no fruit reduces the fruitfulness of changing lives.

What in your life or the life of your community needs to be pruned away to help produce more fruit? What extras get in the way of fruit production and sap our time and energy but produce no fruit?

These are my thoughts when I prune away the branches of my tomato vines. How does God focus the energy of our lives, gift of the gospel, and gifts given in holy baptism into producing the fruit of changing lives through the love of Jesus?

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