Dear First Pres,

 There is what I like to call a "NO DUH" moment in the Bible. I imagine those listening to Jesus may have thought of him as a simpleton when he said this. "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick oranges from a dandelion weed or pick grapes from a spotted Spurge weed." (Fresno translation). Of course not! Come on Jesus, we all know this. But then Jesus continues, (let me summarize), when it comes to us, humans, the fruit we bear comes out of our hearts.
   Let's be honest, when it comes to fruit in my life, there is some bright colored fruit on the outside of my branches, but hidden behind the bright shiny polished leaves, my fruit is rotten, spiky and poisonous. It is vile and damaging to all those around me including myself. Is there any hope for change?
   What is in the fabric of my being that needs to be different so that I experience peace, love, joy, patience...? I want good fruit in all circumstances no matter what the world throws at me. What needs to change so that no matter how much the winds of life ruffle my leaves the fruit found underneath is good?
   Rhetorically I ask, can a tree change its own fruit? Of course not. Can you fix your own clogged artery? We can no more change the condition of our hearts than a tree can improve its own fruit production. The best place for the kind of transformation we need is in the context of community, where Jesus is invited to work in and through us. Growing together as disciples and disciple-makers we become more like him, bearing good fruit in more areas of our lives.
   Discipleship Groups are our church's emerging strategy for creating the space for bad fruit to fall off and good fruit to emerge in the context of community. It begins with an 11-week experience in which we invite you to trust God to do the work of making you more like him through the work of the Holy Spirit. I hope you'll consider joining us this Sunday in the Fellowship Hall as begin our first cycle of Discipleship Groups.