I have a confession to make. I sample the grapes in the grocery store before I buy them. I usually swipe just one, to make sure they aren’t sour or soft. I suppose that counts as stealing, but I did the math — at $1.49 per pound (Aldi price this week), one grape costs 3/10th of 1 cent. It’s ok, right?

PB pruned our little row of grapevines this week, so I’ve been thinking about grapes a lot lately. Grapevines, vineyards, vines and branches are a big theme in the Bible. Jesus talked about them frequently. He told several stories about vineyards and on the night of His arrest, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

I have another confession to make. Sometimes I dump out all the grapes at the bottom of the bag — the ones that didn’t hang on to the vine — and put the nice tight bunches back in the bag. Certainly the store figures in the inevitable loss of a handful of grapes. That’s ok, right?

Here’s the thing.
I’ve never gone into a grocery store to buy one grape.
They come in bunches.

And PB didn’t plant one solitary vine.
There is a whole row of vines that twist around each other.
They grow together, supporting each other.

One single grape
won’t make more than a few drops of juice.
A healthy vineyard
can produce barrels of wine.

What is the lesson here?

I think we are meant to be people who are twisted up and entangled with each other’s lives. It seems we’re supposed to bump up against each other and encourage each other to hold on to the vine. Certainly, we are intended to be an offering, poured out and fragrant to a world longing for a taste of goodness.

Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
Apart from each other, we can do very little.
Find yourself a cluster and hang on.