Prayer Based on John 14, especially verses 15-17 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
Spirit of Truth, come live in me
Rest on me and ready me
Seeing as you see
Your mind and heart within me
Hearing and heading your counsel
Wisdom of the ages
Divine and life-giving and intimate
Speak, I’m listening
Spirit of Truth, come live in me
Rest on me and release me
Empowered by your might,
Steadfast and vulnerable
Strength of soul and character
Strength of virtue and honor
Strength to build up and make way
Your truth pouring forth, generous and creative
Awakening and instructing and sustaining
Spirit of Truth, come live in me
I ask this humbly
Recognizing the price of this gift
I ask this reverently
For your honor and glory alone
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.
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)
For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.
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 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.