Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. John 15:1 - 8

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 15:2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 15:3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 15:4 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.

15:5 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. 15:6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

This is the Gospel of the Lord . . . Praise to you O Christ

God Prunes Those He Loves Best

We live in a truly amazing time -- it's especially amazing if you are in the 30 and under category because you 80's and 90's generation young people have the ability to Multitask! Now if anyone here does not understand this word to: "MULTITASK", it means that you can DO more than two or three or four separate/different activities at once . . . Like, Talk on the phone, Be typing or manipulating your computer and pushing some package along the floor with your feet. All the while, you are gobbling down your lunch, or going to the bathroom, because there is not time left in the day for these necessary life essentials!!!

Multitasking! . . . There you go! It's the inn thing to do and to be–you'll even see the word used in the Help Wanted section of the paper: "Must be able to multitask."

I suppose that folks have always multi-tasked for generations, they just must have had another name for it . . . . Maybe the other name for a multitasking person is MOTHER!! That today is Mother's Day (!) really is beside the point . . . because it is an absolute truth that our mothers have been multitasking since the earliest of times. Many of you can remember when mother and/or grandmother was there in the kitchen multitasking. With one or two children on the hip, and a couple of more crawling around on the floor, while making a pot of soup on the stove, an ironing board nearby, bread rising on the table, apples being pealed by older children and giving orders to Pa, and helping the oldest daughter to write something while giving orders to older sons to go and help Grandpa . . . and all the while considering what seeds to buy for the spring garden. Our Mothers and Grandmothers have been the greatest Multitaskers of all time!! And we truly want to honor them today for all they have done and continue to do for us. Thank You Mom for being there for us and so many others, you have been the ultimate greatest of multitaskers and for keeping or getting our lives going down the right path — we cannot thank you enough.

However, in Yesteryear-- it must have been more difficult to multitask when you had more manual labor tasks to accomplish. Like: milking the cows, thrashing wheat, hoeing the garden or throwing hay down from the barn. These chores did not allow the worker to do much else at the time . . ., unless conversation, story telling or laughter count as multitasking activity. Maybe so – maybe so.

A potential drawback of Multitasking in these modern days-- is that you can't really do an in depth job on any of the activities that you are doing–when your doing them all at the same time. That report you're writing while you are talking with the girlfriend or boyfriend on the phone is not going to have a lot of depth or be very well written if you are not giving it your full attention.

1. The entries on the computer may be missing a few characters, or numbers, because it is hard to get everything entered concisely when you don't concentrate. And, as many of us know, when you call someone, and your trying to convey an important message about something and they are only "Half Listening" (trust me, I am as guilty about this as anyone–which you will know when you call me at home and you can hear the dishes and pots and pans clanging in the background). There is also the shallowness of our conversation when our mind is on other things when we talk to someone on the phone. You know how it sounds, ". . . Aaa yea, aa hah, ok, right, sure, is that right? . . . you don't say? Yes, no . . . bye."

When you hang up with someone who is multi-tasking, you kind of wonder if they really paid attention to anything you said.

Now, my illustrations were exaggerated . . . There truly are many remarkably talented people who are very sharp and able to keep many balls in the air at once without missing a beat. Not sure I'm one of them - - but we all have our brilliant moments!!

Nevertheless, I would like to come back to what Jesus says about God coming into our lives, as the Chief Vine Dresser, and pruning away the excess clutter in our lives in order to make the central vein of Our Lives more Fruitful. . . .

Just as it is possible that the overall quality of performance from an overextended multi-tasker begins to look a little tattered around the edges . . . so also, Our Lives, in terms of Living faithfully for Jesus, can begin to look a little less radiant when we get off the track or ALLOW too many unhealthy or

Un-GODLY influences to take over all of our time and energy.

None of us is going to be terribly excited to see God Coming into our home, our workplace or our private space with the Lopping Shears!!! "No Lord, not the Big Screen TV!! CHOP!!! "Come on Lord, not the promotion I was going to get if I managed to improve worker efficiency by another 20%." "LOPP!!" "Come on Lord–I promise I'll not order any more Sports Magazines . . . I'll even read my devotionals twice daily!!" CHOP@!!

The point is, God is going to cut off from our lives undue and/or excessive influences that are not conducive to what God desires as an outcome in our lives. It's not that God wants to destroy our character or remove from us every luxury, but there are certain things or tendencies for every one of us that take our lives out of balance. This can be especially true of our spiritual selves . . . as outside influences creep in and take away all of our time and energy, let alone money or other resources. Here's where God, by the Holy Spirit, will come in your life and mine with the Holy Lopping shears and prune our lives back a bit. Not to punish us or make us miserable, but to improve us–ultimately to bless us! So that we will be more of a blessing to ourselves and others.

In the horticultural world, we call this Renewal Pruning!! This is when an entire hedge or shrub is cut back – clear to the ground! Then it grows back again – without the dead wood! Bushes like Forsythia, Honeysuckle and some of the lovely spring flowering shrubs and perennials like to be cut back occasionally right down to the ground. Then they can regrow with fresh wood and fresh sprouts, with renewed vigor and blooming and fruiting.

In fact, Many shrubs bloom much better and produce much more fruit after being completely cut back to the ground. Fall bearing Red Raspberries are one of these fruits that will produce much larger and better fruit when you cut them back in the fall. And Fruit is what we want and what God wants of our lives!!! Fruits of Righteousness! Peace, Love and Devotion!! So God may cut us entirely back on occasion so that we can get a fresh start in life. It sounds severe, but the freshness and new vigor of the shoots that arise from the stump more than compensate for losing the "old self."

All of us have areas of our life that need some of God's Renewal Pruning to come in. How about Fear? Do you or should I allow the invasive branch of Fear to dominate our energy – What about Anger? Is an overgrown Limb of Anger sapping away your Love for God – is your energy to Love as Jesus has loved you, (??) completely non-existent because all the sap is going to a thorny tangle of Fear and Anger? Allow the Vine Dresser to cut those branches off . . . and keep yourself open to what the Spirit wants to do in your life.

Let God come in and cut back the diseased limbs that are robbing you of Spirit's life. In fact, if we can prune back our emotions, which sometimes get the best of us – we can begin to grow back into the love that we once knew for our spouse, our children . . . our parents and neighbors. Some of us need to pray and ask God to come in with the Big Hedge Shears and cut down the mess we have made of our relationships–this may even require a chain saw! But don't fear, it's God's love at work in you. Not to harm, but to take away the old and make something new!!!

We need to allow hatred and Unforgiveness to be cut off so we can grow back into Love. As the lesson says in 1John, "whoever does not love brother or sister–whom you can plainly see any day, does not love God whom we cannot see."

Literally, the best of our energy and creativity could be getting robbed by excessive branching. When the overall strength of your life is channeled into too many limbs, branches or multiple trunks then you are going to experience FEAR, Anger, hatred, or sadness because you are not able to keep centered in God's love and faithfulness. If this is your life, or even if you are producing some fairly nice fruits now . . .

Pray and ask the Master Vine Dresser, God, to hedge back or trim whatever areas of your life need pruning. Let us pray,

Lord, I want to give you all of the Glory through my life – but I must admit, I don't like to see you coming with the pruning shears, nevertheless, help me to trust you more–that you are the Master of the Vineyard, the Lord of my life, and the One who Loves and knows me best. So come, by the Holy Spirit, and work in my life so I can be a more Fruitful Branch in your Kingdom.


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