“This is what the Lord says…But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8 New Living Bible
The verses above contain a wonderful promise from God that as we put our trust and confidence in God, we will continue to be fruitful people, no matter what the circumstances around us. Even in the face of “drought” and the “storms” of life, God will bring refreshment, supply our needs as His people, and help us to be a fruitful congregation. As we put our hope and trust in God, we can be God’s people in Antigo who practice passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk taking mission and service, extravagant generosity, and radical hospitality. (The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schanse)
Producing spiritual fruit as individual Christians or as a congregation begins with trusting God, or having confident assurance in God and what God will do, even before we can see the evidence. It means moving forward in ministry, breaking new ground, trying new actions that may make us uncomfortable in the short run… because we do not yet see all the details or know where all the resources will come from. That is what trust and faith are all about.
This summer we are trying something new. We are moving our outdoor worship service from the Church yard to City Park. The reason we will be worshipping in City Park on July 23 is to hopefully attract some people who may not be comfortable coming to a church building for the first time, but might come to a place they are familiar with, like City Park. Taraforming, the contemporary praise band from Clintonville UMC will be coming to lead us in worship that morning. I want to challenge you to begin praying now, about who you could invite to come to worship with you on that day (a neighbor, relative or coworker). And be sure to invite them to the picnic following worship. (Guests are not expected to bring food, although they might want to bring a lawn chair like they would for “Music in the Park.”) We have reserved the WEST shelter for that morning. Here is a great opportunity to step out in faith as we try a new way to reach people with the Good News of God’s love. Be sure to read the details for this event elsewhere in the newsletter.
Jeremiah describes people who trust in God as trees planted by a river bank…with roots that go deep into God. As we stay close to Jesus through Bible study, prayer, worship and obedience to God’s Word, we are putting down deep roots that will draw up nourishment from Jesus. And the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called the Living Water, will refresh and transform us, changing us to be more like Jesus, resulting in spiritual growth and spiritual fruit.
Let’s be a fruitful people, with roots going deep into Jesus Christ, a people refreshed by God’s Spirit, and moving forward in sharing God’s love with others. Let’s be a people who have hope and confidence for the future, because our trust is in our Faithful God.
Grace and Peace