"Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, to make it bear more fruit"
Unless you're an experienced gardener, the whole idea of pruning runs counter to expectations. I mean, if some buds are good, aren't more better? But that's not the way many living things work.
Now Grace Church is a living thing. And let me continue by running counter to expectations... I don't think this "pruning" means we should cut our budget or shrink our membership. This is absolutely not what pruning means for a church! Until this sorry world lays its burdens down and rests in God, we have work to do. I'd like us to focus on the idea of "pruning" as meaning "focusing".
Annual Meeting gives the entire parish a once-a-year chance to gather, share a meal (this is Grace Church, after all!) and then focus on our ministries. Let's come together in 2014 and double-down in what we are called to do, and have the discipline to make wise choices so that we bear more fruit.
Where are we bearing fruit? Grace actually publishes something where we can find out - the Annual Meeting booklet that will be available to all on Sunday morning. Please read it through. You'll see that we are fruitful in worship through word and music, in Christian education, in social action and in taking care of each other.
Please go back to that quote from the Gospel of John and notice that in God's economy, pruning means ending up with more. It's about abundance. Spiritual and pastoral abundance is His will for us, Grace Church. See you Sunday at Annual Meeting.