This hymn text was written at the request of a pastor friend many years ago. She wanted a hymn which expressed the themes of John 15:1-17. I share it today remembering her; thankful for her friendship and encouragement back when I was first beginning to write. I pray you would feel the abiding love of God and others this day and every day. – Lisa <
You Are the Source
Meter- 86.86 with Refrain (CM with Refrain)
Suggested Tune- GIFT OF FINEST WHEAT (United Methodist Hymnal #629)
You are the Source of grace and life,
The Root of all that’s true
You join us to this mystery
As we abide in You
Dear children of this fallen sod
The Gard’ner knows our need
In grafting us to Christ the Vine
We gain eternity (Refrain)
For we are branches of the Vine
Joined cross both time and place
No fruit is grown apart from Christ
For what is grown needs grace (Refrain)
You prune our lives with utmost care
So we might bear more fruit
The fruit of justice, peace, and love
Lived out in all we do (Refrain)
Eternal Vine, most Holy Seed
Sewn as Your willing Son
So intertwine Your family vine
That we might live as one (Refrain)
Who wants more of this in their life? We all do. If you had to pick one to have more of in your life, which would you pick? (I want patience. Give me patience now!)
They are all good like a good piece of fruit. They are good gifts from God.
God expects fruit in our lives. They are the natural progression of being a follower of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit at work in our life. Growth in grace. Being alive and multiplying. Being rooted and grounded in Christ.
This is the fruit of abiding in Christ. The Spirit abides with us and in us. This is the natural fruit from believing and praying and trusting and seeking and serving.
It’s very simple: A follower of Christ should look and act differently than someone yet to believe.
Where’s the fruit? Do we look all that different?
Where are the saved crying out in thanksgiving?
Where are the bodies, families, and unjust systems healed for the Glory of God
Where are the leaders leading out of Godly wisdom and humility?
Where are the abused, angry, and addicted rejoicing in Christ’s freedom?
There is fruit my friends, but too often we don’t tell anyone about it. We hide it. We’re afraid of bragging, being weird, we’re shy.
Testimonies of Grace Stimson, Alida Noel Provence, and Pam Rader.
The Holy Spirit is at work. There is fruit. It’s about having eyes to see it. It’s about wanting it. The Spirit is never forced upon us.
Galatians 5 is all about freedom.
Galatians 5:1 For freedom, Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Freedom from a false understanding of the law which lays a heavy burden on us
Purpose of the Law was to show us our need of a Savior- we can’t fulfill the law in our own strength
Good gift of the law was twisted into a set of rules – follow the rules you’ll earn God’s love and salvation
How are we saved? By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by your own doing, not of works and rules (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Galatians 5:13-14 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers, and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Wide swing to another end of the spectrum in understanding freedom in Christ
Christ has set me free so I can do whatever I want
No- our freedom is so we can love and serve one another
In true freedom, we live by the Spirit not the law, not rules In true freedom, we are guided by the Spirit not our fleshy selfishness or achieving
Galatians 5:16-25 NRSV 16 Live by the Spirit, I say and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
a “sin list” of 15 actions
fornication, impurity, licentiousness (misuse of the good gift of sex)
heart of war sees people as objects, obstacles to be overcome or fixed, projects, problems, a means to an end. People not as people
drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. (misuse of the good gift of celebration)
I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Tug Of War Battle: Flesh vs. Spirit, Heart of War vs. Heart of Peace, Old Life without Christ vs. New Life with Christ. Just like in Tug of War, there will be a surrender. Will you surrender to the flesh or will you surrender to the Spirit? Do you want the Fruit of the Spirit or do you want the crazyville of the sin list?
The Fruit of the Spirit is the evidence we’ve surrendered to the Spirit, that we’re finding true freedom in Christ.
There is an awful, scary warning in the middle of this passage. (v. 21) If you act like the sin list you won’t inherit the Kingdom. But I still get angry… I still envy… I want patience NOW… I don’t have self-control over chocolate, or something else.
We’re awakening and becoming self-aware. The warning is serious, we take it seriously, so we get to work. I’ll work on my patience.
Did you hear the W word? I’ll work on being more patient and there we are trapped again. We turn the list of the Fruit of the Spirit into a new set of laws which will bind us. We work hard to achieve them in our own strength.
Truth: We can’t create the Fruit of the Spirit. All we do is surrender to it.
We give ourselves grace because it takes a long time to bear fruit. If you were to plant a fruit tree, how long would it take before it bore fruit? If you were to plant seeds, how long would it take? The Holy Spirit is the seed.
John 15:4 Jesus said, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
We abide. Every day we open ourselves to the Spirit. Grow fruit in me. It’s that simple.
An apple tree doesn’t have to focus and work really hard to produce apples. It’s the natural result of seed meeting soil, sun, water.
The Holy Spirit is the seed. The Spirit meets the soil of our soul. It’s watered by our openness and trust, prayer, scripture, community, seeking, surrender.
Give yourself grace. Tell someone about the fruit.
Message 5 of 5
Scripture: John 15:1-8
These are the notes from a message offered 11/18/18, the Sunday before Thanksgiving at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. This is the last post in the series. I pray they have been an encouragement to you.
John 15:1-5, 8 Jesus said, “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. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing…. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
This feels like bearing fruit:
Dedicating the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes
The marriage of our eldest daughter Elyse to a very faithful, honorable man named Sam. We see the fruit of faith in their lives. We see all the folks along the way who planted seeds of faith which are now blossoming.
Tamara’s Baptism- This was the first adult baptism in 4 years.
We’ve been having conversations amongst the missions team and later the leadership council about fruitfulness. Fruit-full. It’s what drove me to this scripture.
Jesus gives us many illustrations of who we are as his followers. We are the Bride of Christ. We are a building made with living stones. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Family of God. We are the Branches of a Vine. Jesus is referring to a grapevine in this instance.
Over and over and over again it says you will bear fruit, you will bear fruit, you will bear fruit.
That is the longing of my heart. It is also the thing that haunts me because having only one adult baptism in 4 years feels like we could bear much more fruit than that. We’re called to bear more fruit than that.
So we started having conversations in the mission team. We have incredibly faithful leaders in that area. We talked about the tens of thousands of dollars being raised for mission efforts- The United Methodist Women’s efforts, the Rummage Sale, our regular Sunday offerings for connectional giving which supports missionaries and projects around the world. We also do local programs like the Day 4 Hope back to school event.
We started having honest conversations about what is bearing fruit. It drew us to a question. As the Body of Christ are we suffering from multi-system organ failure? Are we dying? Or is it as we see in this passage, is it time for some pruning?
I am a novice when it comes to plants. I’ve planted some veggies but I’ve never had to prune. My mother had rose bushes and she would cut them back to nubbins. It looked like she was hurting the plant, but actually, she was helping the plant.
Pruning can feel like loss. Like harm. Like damage. It’s hard to do.
So we started talking about pruning. What in the life of the congregation was bearing fruit? What could we prune and make it more fruitful? What were some things that it was time for us to not do them anymore?
We’d been invited by the conference to be apart of an effort called Dinner Church. We prayed about it and went to meetings. It was about starting a new worship service based on meals. It was very clear. There was not one person in the congregation who felt like we were called to it. Ok, that’s not what we’re supposed to do.
Then we started to have conversations around some of our big efforts, including the Day 4 Hope back to school event. It takes thousands of dollars, 10 months to plan, over 200 volunteers.
We’ve been doing Day 4 Hope for 4 years and we came to the realization there was no fruit. It was absolutely good. It was good to give kids school supplies and the eye exams and the dental check and medical check, haircut, gift certificates, and photos.
We had not built any relationships with the families. We tried. The relationship with the school was at a standstill. Was it time to prune?
The missions team took some proposals to the leadership council and we had some hard conversations. We said, “Yes.” Yes, we are not called to do Dinner Church. Yes, it is time for the season of Day 4 Hope to come to an end.
It was at that moment I’m thinking, ok Lord, multi-system organ failure or pruning? What is it, Lord? In the midst of the leadership, I heard it’s time for pruning.
In our history, we are a generous people. We are generous with time, money, resources, love, grace, hope. It’s time to prune that generosity into something face to face. If we’re really honest, it’s so much easier to give money and stuff to someone else to do the ministry for us than to be face to face ourselves.
Bearing fruit, being fruit-full, means being face to face. Relationship building, skin in the game, a ministry of presence, faith in action, servant-hearted, choosing to be a hometown missionary.
We are the ones sent to this community. We are the branches. We have the fruit and so many others are in need of it.
Trinity Family Ministries
Partnership with Phillippi Shores Elementary School Teachers
Brookdale Assisted Living on Swift
Fish of Sarasota- rides to doctor’s appointments
We are at a new season in our life here at Trinity.
John 15:4-5 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me you can do nothing
In order to be fruit-full, we need this abiding. In this abiding, God removes every branch that bears no fruit. (Verse 2) We give thanks to God for removing our
Sin, Shame, Guilt
Prejudice, Evil, Injustice
Hate, Apathy, Isolation
It is removed so that the Holy Spirit can abide in us. So that something new can happen, we can bear more fruit.
More fruit in our character, the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Our lives are changed as we share the fruit we are bearing. We become fruit-full. It’s wonderful to help someone else do ministry but it does not excuse us from the calling God places on our lives to bear fruit ourselves. Our own calling.
What bears fruit is pruned to make it bear more fruit. (Verse 2) Our character is changed bearing the Fruit of the Spirit. Our community is changed as we bear the fruit of faith.
Things start going down- the crime rate, acts of violence, the unemployment rate
Things start coming up- the number of kids graduating, the number of kids who can read well, the number of people who have hope, the number of folks who place their trust in Jesus, the number of folks whose lives are changed.
The seeds bear fruit and there is a harvest. This is who we are. This who you are. This is who we can be.
We’ve been talking about what it means to be resilient for weeks now. Now we’re at the point where the resilience begins to bear fruit.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
In Christ we are resilient!
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
Mark 1:14-20, NRSV Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
You call me from what I know to something new
From a life on this sea with this family
From the nets of generations before me
You call me to a new beginning
A new being and doing
You call me to follow
To move and become
Help me turn towards you
Help me follow
Help me believe and trust you fully
Help me live into my chosenness
To lay down what I know and pick up anew
Empower me to go out with you
Across, beyond, into the deep
Bringing in your wild, shining kingdom
Full, full nets
Full, full nets
Full, full nets
Please let me know the artist of this piece that I may give him/her credit.
Prayer at Year’s End by Steve Garnaas Holmes
in the evening of this year
I release the year to you.
Not a day, not a breath, have I been without you,
and I thank you.
All that I have done is done;
what I have not done I have not done.
All of my sins and errors you have forgiven,
and I release them.
All of my triumphs are your doing,
and I release them.
The year is gathered into your harvest,
to winnow and to save.
My life is gathered into your grace.
By your spirit in me may I learn from my mistakes,
grow from my wounds,
and deepen in gratitude for my gifts.
And now I turn to a new year,
grateful for your presence and your grace,
seeking only to live in harmony with your delight,
and open to your blessing and your leading.
Whether my journey onward be long or short,
it shall be in you, and I rejoice.
Gratitude for a New Year by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
For the blessings of today
which remind us of the blessings of the past
which point forward to the blessings still to come
we give you thanks
Prayer for a New Year, based on Psalm 90 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Eternal and Immortal One,
You have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born,
Before the earth and the world came to birth,
From eternity to eternity,
You are God.
To you, a thousand years are like a yesterday
Like a watch of the night
You return us to dust
You sweep us away like a dream
We are like grass
In the morning we thrive,
But come evening,
We are withered and dry
Teach us to number our days
That we may gain your wise heart
Fill us with your faithful love
That we may sing your joyful story
Show us your wondrous deeds
That we may see your transforming power
That generations to come may see it as well
Let your favor, O God be upon us,
That the work of our hands
May bear forth your blessing
And bring your glory. Amen.
Penitence by Larry Poncho Brown
Prayer of Confession for a New Year
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
As the new year is born,
We remember and regret…
Forgive us, Holy One,
When we keep You at a distance
When we defy your bidding
When we make it harder
for people to know you
Forgive us, Holy One,
When we deny our weakness
When we wallow in our weakness
When we take advantage
of the weakness of others
Forgive us, Holy One,
When we refuse Your counsel
When we waste your gifts
When we withhold Your compassion from others
As the new year is born
We labor to look forward
Our hearts fill with hope
For you are making all things new
even us… Amen
A New Year’s Blessing by Steve Garnaas Holmes
My hope and prayer and confidence
is that in this new year
God will be lovingly present for you,
and you will more and more deeply trust
God’s delight in you.
Christ will lead you every step of the new year.
The Spirit’s gifts will unfold in you in new ways.
I rejoice that in this new year
beauty will surround you; grace will enfold you;
love will embrace and uphold you;
joy will bless you, and hope sustain you.
May you receive healing and wisdom;
may your creativity flower and your courage grow;
and in your hands may justice and mercy flourish.
I rejoice that these gifts await you in the new year,
and pray that you receive them with delight.
I give thanks for the gift of sharing together
the journey of this new year.
God bless us all.
********** Click Here for a collection of quotes entitled Counting Our Days
Growing in Resilience
Day 15, Read Isaiah 54
Reflection: Hold Nothing Back, based on Isaiah 54:9-10, NRSV
This is like the days of Noah to me: Just as I swore that the waters of Noah would never again go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Hold nothing back!
We are not what we think we are
What others name us
What we name ourselves
We are not abandoned
Cast off for someone more desirable
The Eternal is also our Beloved
Who upholds our sacred union
An everlasting covenant of peace
Of whole and holy love
We are not afflicted
Shamed and grieved by our barrenness
Look! See! There is a heritage
Our breath and labor are not in vain
Quick! Enlarge the tent
Open and stretch to make room
For the gathering and birthing of the Beloved comes
Hold nothing back
Today I realized how often Jesus’ parable of the soil/sower makes its way into my devotional life. The story is simple, yet rich with wisdom and truth. I’ve learned so much and yet there is so much more to discover. Leave a comment with what you’ve discovered. I’d love to hear from you. – Lisa <><
I. We Cry, “Glory!”
Lord of Life
You sow extravagantly
Some would cry, “Foolish”
We cry, “Glory!”
You sow your Word
“Glory!” to your grace and mercy
You save us from the stealing
The choking thorns
“Glory!” to your deliverance and power
You make our lives good rich soil
Ready for your seed
In you, we grow up and increase and yield
“Glory!” to your goodness and faithfulness
We rejoice in you and in being your harvest
Help us to ever bear your good and lasting fruit
for the honor and glory of your name. Amen
II. Good, Good Soil
Jesus, you sow yourself
The Word of Truth, generously
The Word of Life, graciously
Defend us from the Evil One
Who seeks to snatch us away
Fortify us for hard times and costly discipleship
That we may endure
Deliver us from distraction
From worldly desires and
All that would lure us and choke us with false promises
Enrich us with every blessing of your Spirit
That we may be good, good soil
Forever faithful and fruitful for you
III. Save My Soul, Good Gardener
Save my soul, Good Gardener
Evil flies in wanting to steal my hope
Work piles up, insecure boulders ready to crash, leaving no room to root
My faith begins to wither as does our relationship
Distractions grow, choking my gratitude
Clear the land
Weed then seed
Nourish the soil of my soul
I long to blossom and bring forth your fruit, a hundredfold
IV. Prayer of Confession: Break Through This prayer of confession was commissioned for the opening worship service of the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church.
As we gather on your good earth,
before the bounty of your Word and Table,
and the majesty of your holy presence,
We remember and repent
Forgive us, Abiding One,
We keep you at a distance
We defy your bidding
We make it harder for people to know you
Forgive us, Saving One,
We deny our weakness
We wallow in our weakness
We take advantage of the weakness of others
Forgive us, Holy One,
We refuse your counsel
We waste your gifts
We withhold your compassion from others
Break through our hardened views,
lest the evil one win the day
Break through our gravelly hearts
lest we have no root and wither to nothing
Break through our thorny ways
lest our agendas and fears
choke the promise of your word
and smother a harvest worthy of your Name
ONE: Psalm 103:8-14 CEB
Hear the good news-
The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
very patient, and full of faithful love.
God won’t always play the judge;
he won’t be angry forever.
He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin
or repay us according to our wrongdoing,
because as high as heaven is above the earth,
that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him.
As far as east is from west—
that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.
Like a parent feels compassion for their children—
that’s how the LORD feels compassion for those who honor him.
Because God knows how we’re made,
God remembers we’re just dust.