Our gardens are waking up! Garden centers are putting out trees and vines to be planted. Last weekend I got into a mouthwatering conversation anticipating Stevenson’s abundant strawberry patches.
Churches are throbbing with Spring energy. Readfield UMC just opened their doors for newcomers to get to know various organizations and opportunities in their community. Bolster’s Mills, Brunswick, and Highland Ave. have built community collaboration with auctions to support mission efforts. Belfast, Auburn, and Brunswick hosted last weekend’s Resource days in which 54 people, representing 22 churches, equipped themselves with Appreciative Inquiry and Asset mapping tools. We hope you’ll send short articles about what goodness is budding in your church so that others can learn and be inspired!
From Genesis 1: 11: then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. To Revelation 22:2, on either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations, and including what protestants call the apocryphal books, the NRSV bible translation mentions “fruit” 293 times.
In the New testament, the fruit of Mary’s womb grows up to speak of the fruit of the spirit, fruits of discipleship, fruit that feeds minds, bodies and souls with the kindom of God.
As we move toward the celebration of Pentecost, festival of fruits, I invite you to look over my shoulder as I read and reflect on “Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results” by Lovett Weems and Tom Berlin. If you pick up the book and read along, you may be challenged, as I am, by the introduction’s list of excuses in seasons of unfruitfulness. Have you ever thought (as I have):
”I am not called to be effective. I am called to be faithful.”
”I am called to a ministry of presence.”
“You have to understand where we are in our life cycle as a congregation.”
We ARE called to be faithful. Faithfulness forms Christ like character in us that longs to by conduits for the fruitfulness of God’s reign.
We ARE called to ministry of presence with others as Christ’s love flows through us. This does not mean that we are to ignore Jesus’ mandate to grow as disciples and invite others to grow with us. When church becomes more about helping each other feel better than finding the inner strength breathed in by the Spirit, we are crippling, rather than healing, one another.
It IS useful to know where our church is in its life cycle, not for avoiding decision making, planning, and implementing, but so that we who are alive on Christ’s vine may bear what God is giving us to bring to fruition.
Lovett and Tom write, Fruitfulness is vastly different from what the world regards as success. Fruitfulness has as its goal not personal advancement, or acclaim but the advancement of God’s reign on earth. It seeks to shape the life and work of the congregation through a shred passion for its mission.
Let’s plan for a Pentecost of epic proportions. Perhaps this year’s celebration will be when you lead your congregation in committing to a fruitful future, faithful to discover and live the plans God has for you. As you make plans for sharing the love of our living Christ, let me know how it’s going and how Lori and I can support you. We have tools and resources for every season and step of the way.
Next Week: Chapter One: A Biblical Mandate for Fruitfulness.
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. -Colossians 1:9-10 (NRSV)
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.