Trellis and vine

"There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower..." Matthew 21.33


Some years ago I read a book called 'The Trellis and the Vine'. It distinguished between communities of faith (vine) and the structures which support them (trellis), revealing how we tend to obsess over the latter (trellis) to the detriment of the former (vine). Both have their place but the trellis exists to support the vine and not vice versa!


One might extend the analogy to include other aspects of life, such as the economy. The exchange of goods is supposed to sustain life and not the other way around. But our obsession with economic measurements and, in particular "growth" makes it feel like the system has lost sight of its purpose. Similar could be said for education, sport, music and so on. All of these were developed for the improvement of life but they have become ends in themselves, pitching us onto endless treadmills of achievement for its own sake, rather than for the enrichment of community life.


Bizarrely or pathetically, we live as if there is no alternative. But there is! If we can sent rockets to Mars we can re-order our priorities and put the structures which support them back in their place: as means to an end and not ends in themselves. Turning political, economic and social structures on their head so that they serve the common good is what stewardship is all about. Here in Scotland God is already judging the church for its failure in this regard. Pray that we may heed the voice of the Spirit to repair the trellis, in order that a renewed vine will flourish - with the capacity to call the whole nation back to faithfulness.

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