I am the true vine, and [God] is the vinegrower. [God] removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit [God] prunes to make it bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2)

Last weekend, I had the privilege of taking the holiday weekend off. With social distancing and COVID-19 cases surging in Southwest Florida, I chose not to go anywhere or have anyone over, but it was a quiet weekend of catching up on chores around my home. While I still have several things I want to accomplish, it felt good to get a lot done.

One of the big tasks that I needed to accomplish was to prune the jasmine vine that grows on one exterior wall of my home, as well as over the garage. The previous owners must have had this planted and frankly, most of the year, it is a total pain and I often think about just uprooting it and starting over.

But let me tell you when it is all worth it. Each spring around Easter, the jasmine not only produces the most beautiful white flowers, but it also produces an intoxicating aroma. You can smell the jasmine as soon as you open my front door or open the garage door. I almost do not need the liturgical calendar to know when Easter is–my jasmine vine tells me.

Over the hot and humid July 4th weekend, as I stood sweating and pruning, the scripture above kept coming to my mind. If I am going to have the beautiful white flowers and that intoxicating aroma by Easter next year, I must do the work now to be able to enjoy it then.

And I think the same about life during continued quarantine. I must do the work now so that I can continue to enjoy life into the future. I must keep myself and our staff and congregation safe now so that we can enjoy life together again in the future.

That is my prayer for each of us. That we will continue to keep ourselves and those we love safe. And in that safety we will be together again soon. May it be so.

Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor
Senior Minister

For those in isolation:
Loving God, thank you for your presence in the “pruning times” of life. Amen.