May 05, 2009

Looking Ahead to MAy 10, 2009 -- 5th Sunday of Easter

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: 1 John 4:7-21
  • Psalm 22:23-31 (VU p.746 Parts 3 & 4)
  • From the Gospel: John 15:1-8
The Hymns this week are:
  • #232 Joyful Joyful We Adore You
  • #588 Many Are the Lightbeams
  • #299 Teach Me, God, to Wonder
  • #427 To Show by Touch and Word
The Sermon title is: Pruned and Trimmed, Ready to Bear Fruit

Early Thoughts: What needs to be pruned or trimmed in our lives? Are we willing to let the pruning happen? Are we ready to be as aggressive as we need to be with the shears?

Gardeners will tell you that pruning is essential for growth. Pruning is not just a way of shaping a plant or keeping the tree from growing into the power lines. Proper pruning focusses the energy of the organism, of encouraging it to be productive. A plant that is not pruned can becomed to intergrown -- I remember attacking a bush on the church grounds where the branches were all intertwined with each other. Unpruned growth can choke off the core. The energy of growth in an un (or under) pruned fruit tree is dissipated while proper pruning allows the energy to go into fruit production. And in some plants pruning causes more growth to happen than otherwise (anyone who has dealt wtih a wild lilac hedge can attest to that -- the more you cut it back the more it sends out suckers).

But most of us are too timid with the shears. Most of us are afraid to cut back enough. "What if it doesn't come back?" "WHat if I kill it?" "It looks so nice and full as it is." SOmetimes we just have to prune heavily (although some advice from people who know what they are doing always helps) and selectively and wait for the benefits to come. And yes, sometimes if we do it wrong or at the wrong time of year it means we have a season of no flowers or a year of lower fruit output.

ANd what does this have to say for us as individuals and as a church? WE need to know when to prune our lives too. Sometimes it is pruning the accumulation of "stuff" that we have built up. SOmetimes it is pruning the activities that fill our days. And for many of us the pruning of our lives as individals and communities is just as hard as hacking off that lovely branch on the apple tree.

Is God calling us to prune our lives so that we can grow? Is GOd calling the church to cut away that which is no longer useful and cast it into the fire? Is God calling the church to be more selective about where we put our time and money, dropping traditional activities to allow space for growth in other areas? Do we need to be free with thte pruning shears so that we too can be fruitful and strong?

GIve it some thought and on Sunday we will explore it some more.

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