Every winter I go through the same routine – I wait until the colder weather comes and my grape vine is dormant, and then I prune off all the branches that are not part of the main vines. This is so that I have a better yield of grapes the next year. So far it has worked quite well and I have enjoyed up to twenty liters of grapes off my little vine.
This task always takes place during the coldest part of winter. The plant shows no life and it is hard to imagine it covered in green leaves and purple grapes. But in a few months that is exactly what I will have if I do the pruning now.
I wonder if God is doing that in the church right now? COVID has made the church look dormant, asleep, not very active. We can only gather with so many people, and so many activities we once enjoyed as essential to ministry have been put on hold. We once thought every service should be followed by coffee times or meals, but that is forbidden. We used food to entice people to come to a missions service, or a fund raiser. That too is forbidden.
On the outside it may appear that the church is on hold, dormant and possibly dead. But could it be that God is allowing us this time to discover our roots again, to figure out where real life comes from? Maybe we have relied too much on events to do the work of the church, when God desires that we, as the church, do the work of loving, caring, spreading the Good News. Remember how we had to tell everyone about Jesus when we first gave our lives to Him? Now we barely bow our heads for prayer in a restaurant lest someone think we are one of those religious people. What changed?
In John 15:1-2 Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Two thoughts flow from this. First, we must be sure we are doing the things that bear fruit. Connected to Jesus we can bear much fruit. Second, if this is pruning season then harvest is just ahead. I can’t wait for that!
– Pastor Gary