Sermon Recording: The Pruning Season (John 15.1-8)

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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 15:1-58
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.

Please refer to the reaching ministries handout for the next portion of the message.

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.

Reaching Ministries

  • Trinity Preschool
  • Trinity Family Ministries
  • Partnership with Phillippi Shores Elementary School Teachers
  • GlorYoga
  • 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!

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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.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Sermon Recording- Family of God (Ephesians 2.11-19)

Sermon Series Website What is Church

Sermon Series: What is Church?
Message 4 of 6: Family of God
Scriptures: Ephesians 2:11-19
This message was offered Sunday, 5/13/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

God’s Vision- Why we do what we do
God is love. We are called to share that love and the hope we’ve found in Jesus Christ with all people.

God’s Mission- What we do
Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World

Our Values- How We Accomplish God’s Work 
We are Christ-Centered

  • We place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Leader

We value hospitality

  • Far more than friendly or welcoming. Belonging, acceptance, openness

We value genuineness

  • Honest with God, each other, and our community Transparent, real, down to earth

We value respect

  • All persons are made in the image of God. The dignity of all and for all

What do you think the missing value is? We choose to be family to one another

  • We are better together
  • Commitment to deep community, mutual support, caring, collaboration, Servant-hearted living, faith in action
  • For many of us, our church family is more of a family to us than our biological family

Family at its worst

  • neglectful, distant, false naming, betrayal, dangerous/abusive

Family at its best

  • safety, belonging, nurture/growth, identity/truthful naming

diversity handsRead Ephesians 2:1-19

  • Without Christ, we are outsiders, outcasts, orphaned, strangers, aliens
  • Without God, there is no safety, no belonging, no nurturing or identity rooted in the eternal

What Christ does by his death and resurrection. Notice all the birth images:    

  • Verse 13, Jesus brings us near by his blood. His blood makes us blood.
  • Verse 14, in his flesh he has made both groups into one
  • Verse 16, Jesus creates a new humanity

Notice all the death images

  • Verse 14, the broken body of Christ breaks down the dividing wall
  • Verse 16, hostility is put to death

An extended quote from Prodigal Brothers by Steve Garnaas-Holmes (Luke 15:11-32)
The failure of our love—distancing ourselves from God and one another— is at the heart of our sin. In our self-centeredness, we break our family bond with God and with others, as if we’re not related. It is not just of our disobedience that we repent but of our distance, our refusing to get close to God and to others, including those whom we judge…. The righteousness that we need is not obedience. It’s a loving relationship—and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God. In repentance, we pray toward both God and neighbor, “I am not on my own. I am yours.”

The message includes the story of St. Francis of Assisi being disowned by his father. Francis finds family and belonging with Jesus and his followers.

Prayer: Make us your children
Heavenly One, Your reach extends to every person, every nation, offering grace, forgiveness, wholeness, and hope. A saving embrace drawing us to you and each other.

Make us your children: grateful for a place in your family, humble before your love and generosity, faithful in honoring and welcoming all, joyful in sharing what we have found in you- safety, belonging, identity, a home of nurture and growth and sending forth. Amen.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean 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.

sermon and prayer © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer: For Yours Alone (Mark 16)

speak witness good news

Based on the short ending of the Gospel of Mark, The Voice Translation
Later, Jesus himself commissioned the disciples to take the sacred and eternal message of salvation far to the East and the West.

Jesus,
Your message is sacred
Holy, Set Apart, Treasured

Your message is eternal
Timeless, Lasting, a Firm Foundation

Your message is salvation
Deliverance, Wholeness, Grace

We bow before your commission to receive and bear your message into the world

Show us when to speak and give us the words
Never for our agenda, for yours alone

Show us what to do and give us the strength
Never for our achievement, for yours alone

Show others we are from you by your power at work through us
Never for our glory, for yours alone

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For Yours Alone © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

You are welcome to use this prayer in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please leave a comment to contact me directly for publishing and posting consideration.

You Summon and Send Us, three prayers based on Matthew 10

Barefoot-Walking on path

Based on Matthew 10:1-7. This prayer can be voiced by a single speaker or by a single speaker (light print) and group (dark print).

Jesus, you summon and send us
You give us authority over all that is unholy and destructive
You give us power to heal
to cast out evil and injustice
to cure and make whole

Jesus, you summon and send us
You call us by name
You give us a voice and a message
Good News! God is near
Good News! God’s kingdom is true and in your midst

Jesus, you summon and send us
You gather us and release us to find what is lost
You focus us on a specific mission for a specific moment
Show us what to lay down in order to pick up
Show us what to leave in order to go

Jesus, you summon and send us
Make us worthy of all you entrust to us 
Your word
Your power
Our very names
Amen

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Based on Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus, Lord of all,
Send us out as you did your first followers

Fill us with your Spirit
that we may share the fullness of your good news
You are with us
Your kingdom draws near

Fill us with your saving power
Make us ambassadors of your healing and wholeness
your justice and welcome
your resurrection and deliverance

Fill us that we may trust you completely
Free us with simplicity
Break the chains of over planning
earthly comfort and
mortal securities

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah to our Savior and King!
Thank you for meaning and purpose
Thank you for entrusting us with your good news
Thank you for the honor of serving and baring your name
Amen

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Based on Matthew 10:16-23

Send us out Good Shepherd, the ones who know your voice
Make us wise
Make us innocent
Make us gentle

Open our lips with your truth
and our eyes to the cost of obedience

There will be trouble
You will provide the strength, the courage, the words

Help us stay true
Help us endure
Amen

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You summon and send us, three prayers based on Matthew 10
© 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer: Jesus you are praying, you are calling

go send traffic light

John 17:17-18
At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

Jesus, you are praying, you are calling.
Open our hearts to what you want us to do. Guide us in our “yes” and “no” to opportunities that we may choose your sending above all else.

Jesus, you are praying, you are calling.
Open our souls to the mission that is beyond what we can do without you- your vision, your compassion, your presence, your intervention.

Jesus, you are praying, you are calling.
Open our lives to your inspiration and blessing. Sanctify us in your truth. Grant us a double portion of wisdom and unity and courage. Strengthen us beyond ourselves to accomplish the saving work you place in our hands.

For the victory of your love and grace we pray.
For the glory of your name we follow. Amen.

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Jesus, you are praying, you are calling © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.