Newsletter – June 2021

Greetings from the desk of the Pastor! ! Every year the seasons change with a predictability, and yet every year as Spring hangs on I always have this little fear in the back of my mind that the Winter will not let go and the warmth will never come. Thankfully, every year my fears are proven wrong and the summer truly does spring upon us!

This year for the very first time in my life, my family has decided to plant a garden at our house. We plotted out some space, and put a line of berries in the back. I’ve also given myself a building project to build a humble tree house for my boys this summer. I’m learning all kinds of new things. But there is one thing that I’ve learned, and it’s something I have heard from childhood – but never really believed. This year I have learned about the practice of pruning.
If you are unfamiliar, in the gardening world there is a practice of cutting back the stems in order to encourage growth. Pruning is a tried and true practice, verified by master gardeners all over the world. You trim a bit, so that they will grow even better next year. We put in some berry bushes this year, and the instructions said “trim it down so that it can grow in a healthy way.” And after putting it in the ground, I looked at this puny plant and thought to myself – what? That cannot be right. How can trimming something down, INCREASE it? Pruning is a practice we know up in our heads, but I think we do not believe it, not truly, down in our hearts.

I was thinking about the pruning of my new berry plants in the back yard a few weeks ago, and I realized, of course, that this has practical application to other areas of life. In my life, I do not like to prune. I do not like to cut things back or trim away things from my schedule. I like to add things. I like to fill up my schedule. Simply put, I just love to DO things. So the idea that trimming back will create MORE growth is very difficult for me to wrap my head around. My mind rebels against the thought – NO! Cutting things away will make LESS, not MORE. And so I cling to my busy schedule and I do not prune.

But then COVID came. And one of the unexpected blessings that came from the horrible tragedy of a global pandemic was the gift of pruning. Because of the universal affect of the virus – we were FORCED to prune. Life was cut back, trimmed down to the stem. And now is the time for regrowth. I think this past year was a real reckoning for many of us. We found out what was essential, what was necessary for us in life. The pruning cut our lives back, trimmed pieces we did not even know were so important to us. But now is the time for new growth. Now is the time for revival.

Our church has been incredibly blessed in this past year. Even through a global pandemic, you all have been steadfast in your commitments. We have weathered the storm, and the sun is finally beginning to peak around the clouds. Out of necessity, we trimmed back so many vital ministries and important programs – and we learned just how important those ministries were. We did not realize how much we missed it until it was gone. (And in other places, with other things we may have even been surprised by how easily we can live without things we thought we always needed). But rather than despair over twigs that have been trimmed, let us prepare for the springing forth of new growth. New buds, new life, sprouting up all around us as our church begins to rebuild.

I don’t want to sugar coat the difficulties – we have a lot of rebuilding to do, particularly in the areas of Sunday School, Youth Group, Life Groups and other Christian Education. But even beyond those, most areas of our church have rebuilding to do. Growth is hard work. But if my little blueberry plant can survive the trimming and bear good fruit – I believe our little church can survive this COVID pruning, and soon we will see good fruit coming from new life. But until then, I’ll “see” you on Sunday,

Pastor JJ


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