OPEN FOR MORNING WORSHIP ON SUNDAY AT 10:30AM
OPEN FOR MORNING WORSHIP
SUNDAY AT 10:30AM

Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 2 May 2021

by Rev Raymond Lunt 2 May 2021

Call to Worship

In the 40 days between Easter and Ascension Day we are told that the risen Lord Jesus made himself known to his followers. This time for celebrating new life in Christ coincides with our Springtime in the UK.

Our opening hymn and prayers reflect that. “Jesus is Lord! Creation’s voice proclaims it.”

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

Opening Prayers

For the beauty of the Springtime and the buds and flowers of new creation, together we give GLORY TO GOD.
For this season of Easter and the good news of the Risen Christ, together we give GLORY TO GOD.
For the hope of new light in the dark places of the world, together we give GLORY TO GOD.
For the Springtime of faith because Christ is with us, together we give GLORY TO GOD.

Risen Lord Jesus,                                                                                                                        
Yours is the love that can change the world;
Yours is the life that brings joy to all people;
Yours is the breath that renews Your church;
Yours is the power that opens the way to eternal life,
To You be all glory and praise.  Amen.                                                                 

Prayer of Confession

Loving God, forgive our weakness of faith, our lack of adventure and enthusiasm in following Your way, our faults and failings which obscure Your living presence in us.

Assure us again of Your grace and forgiveness, and come to abode in our hearts that that Your life may renew our lives. We ask this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Risen Saviour and Lord. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

1st Reading : Isaiah 5 : 1 – 7

2nd Reading: John 15 : 1- 8 

Sermon - The Vine And The Branches – John 15 : 1 – 8    
I have never visited a Vineyard, but I do enjoy grapes and grape juice. In one Circuit in the South where I was minister one of my Church Stewards grew a vine in his veranda at the back of the house.  It crept its way along bearing some grapes each year. John Keats wrote about the “vines that round the thatched eaves run” in his “Ode to Autumn.” I understand there is at least one vineyard here in Derbyshire.

In Bible times the first Vineyard we read about is the one planted by Noah after the flood. Another recorded vineyard belonged to Naboth at the time of Elijah when Queen Jezebel urged her husband King Ahab to take illegal possession of it. There are others, of course.

Vineyards were a traditional part of the agricultural scene in Jesus’ time. The vinedresser’s role included inspection of the mature branches, cutting out the fruitless ones and pruning back the others to stimulate their growth and fruitfulness. Sometimes he might find a broken branch – once detached it had no chance of bearing fruit.

In the Old Testament, the Vineyard became  a powerful symbol of Israel,  God’s covenant people – a vine planted by Yahweh said the prophets Jeremiah and Hosea. But the Vine had often become fruitless even producing wild grapes or sour grapes. We heard about it in the reading from Isaiah ch. 5. The branches had become detached from God and the result was a poor or even negative spiritual quality of life, which sometimes dishonoured God.

With this background in mind Jesus refers to himself as the “TRUE VINE” genuine and perfect – compared with Israel’s imperfections and failures to live up to their calling. He speaks about the True Vine being tended by the gardener, His Father God, and the implications for the branches, for His disciples and followers. He uses this allegory to teach about true discipleship, personally and together.

“I am the True Vine “says Jesus, whom God His Father has planted in the world. Those who connect their lives to Him, who are grafted into Him, those who would be his disciples, are to become fruit bearing Christians  - people whose character and spiritual life is nurtured by Christ to reveal His character and His nature in fruitful lives.

A Christian is someone who responds to His grace and is sustained and renewed by His word and by His Spirit.

The emphasis in this passage comes through the word “ABIDE” or “REMAIN”. “Abide in me and I in You.”(v.4). That word “Abide” occurs seven times in all – it is so important.   A Christian is not someone who believes in His mind a set of facts or a series of doctrines, but someone who desires a constant communion of relationship and love with Jesus Christ. The desire to remain connected. For the Christian fruit-bearing is only possible when we remain connected to the True Vine. Fruit- bearing is only possible when we are “in Christ” and “Christ in us” so that He nurtures us in faith and truth and love.

St. Paul described this deep relationship in two ways. He wrote: “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”, and in another place described the fruit of Christlikeness, what he called the fruit the Spirit, as Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness , Gentleness and Self-control. Fruit that becomes evident when we are truly connected to Christ the Living Vine.

Fruitful discipleship requires faithfulness to Christ.
Fruitful discipleship results from absorbing his teaching.
Fruitful discipleship reveals the character of our Lord.
Fruitful discipleship brings glory to God our Father.
The visible of evidence of Christ in you and you in Christ. ABIDE!

But Jesus calls for even more than that – a fruitfulness increasing in abundance – “more fruit” (v.2); “much fruit” (v.5) he says.

That involves the PRUNING of the branches, getting rid of or giving up those things which, though good, may limit the full potential of our discipleship. It can mean identifying the priorities and pruning away those things which limit the possibilities and plans God may have for us.

PRUNING doesn’t come easy to Christians. We do have a habit of taking things on without giving a thought to giving things up. There are times when we need to take stock seriously and prayerfully so as to discern what God wants to cut out of our lives in order that may become fruitful to his glory.

And this goes for the church, too. “I am the Vine, you are the branches”, said Jesus.  You, together –a group – a corporate body – just a like a church community, perhaps – in communion together in Christ. Sometimes pruning is needed for the church that we may become more fruitful and effective in fulfilling our calling. Instead of just adding new things to serve the present age, sometimes we need to address the question:   “What in our church life has outlived its usefulness?”                                                                                      

To prune is not a sign of failure, but an act with the potential for even greater resultant blessings. It has often proved to be the case that doing a few things well has brought more than being overwhelmed by volume.

Prayerful PRUNING may well create more fruit.

What is the purpose of the vine and the branches and the resultant fruitfulness? V.8. “My Father’s glory is shown by you bearing much fruit, and in this way you become my disciples.”

Discipleship is about bringing glory to God and maturing progressively in  Christ.  Charles Wesley’s hymn line : “Changed from glory into glory”

It is a journey towards entire sanctification and perfecting love. Christ in us – the hope of glory.

The 1st century Christian church grew in numbers and spirituality. Its growth came about not just through mission but also through magnetism. There was something about the Christian community that was so attractive that even unbelievers were saying: “See how these Christians love on another.” How attractive is our fellowship – our church – our own personal Christian life? Are people drawn to Christ because they recognise Christ in us?

ABIDE in me says Jesus – remaining in faithful communion with Christ is the only way to true and fruitful discipleship.
ACCEPTING PRUNING – is the way to growth in effective discipleship.
VALUING each other, together as a shared communion in Christ, reveals more and more of Jesus at work in us and through us.

Fruitful branches help to produce the new wine of the Kingdom – but that’s another sermon! 

Prayers of Intercession

We pray for the church, that we may speak and live as Easter people, risen with Christ. Help us to show by our words and deeds that Christ is alive and at work in us and through us. May this church be a sign of hope in this community – a gospel sign of new life, deeper love and close harmony; where worship is vibrant, faith is strong and love is found.

Living Lord, HEAR US IN YOUR LOVE.

We pray for those for whom this Spring time and Easter season is a shadowland;  where sorrow weighs heavily on the heart; where illness and suffering is a burden of pain and distress; where bereavement has produced  an ache deep inside; where responsibilities seem to be overwhelming and hope lies buried beneath a sea of problems. Come Loving Lord with a personal word of re-assurance to bring healing, comfort and hope. If we can be ministers of Your love help us to know what is best.

Living Lord, HEAR US IN YOUR LOVE.

We pray for those caught up in the crossfire of conflict in many parts of the world; for innocent victims of painful political histories and struggles for power. We pray for the innocent victims of violence, tension and oppression in Myanmar, in regions of the Middle East and the Holy Land. May Your living presence inspire leaders to work other for peace, justice, , healing and harmony.

Living Lord, HEAR US IN YOUR LOVE.

We pray for the work of caring for the many sick people in the world as a result of the continuing pandemic; for all medical teams, vaccinators, scientists and vaccine developers. May generosity of help and support guide the nations of the world to be supportive of those in the greatest need.

Living Lord, HEAR US IN YOUR LOVE.

We remember all who have died, those who have witnessed a good confession of their faith . May they share the joy of Your eternal kingdom.

Living Lord, HEAR US IN YOUR LOVE.

Risen Christ we thank You that we have encountered You in worship and prayer, may we encounter You in the life of the world this coming week, and live to Your praise and glory, in Your name we pray . Amen. 

HYMN: “You are the Vine, we are the branches.

YouTube shows adverts which may not be appropriate to the video we have selected.

The Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore. Amen.