On this page.
Sermon, prayers and hymns for Sunday 2nd May 2021
Broadcast & Online services.
Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am Radio 4 Sunday Worship
9.00 am The Church of England Service Available at: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online/weekly-online-services
10.00 am Chester Cathedral are livestreaming the Cathedral Eucharist at: https://chestercathedral.com/stream/
10.45 A modern-style of service will be livestreamed from Christ Church Gipsy Hill available at: https://www.facebook.com/christchurchgipsyhill
The Prayer Book Society continue to livestream a wide range of Book of Common Prayer Services available at: https://www.pbs.org.uk/churches-and-services/-1
A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter John 15: 1 - 8; 1 John 4: 7 – end
Last week I had a conversation with someone about the importance of place. The place where we belong, where we can put our roots down and call ‘home’ matters. It reminded me of the title of an autobiography written by one of my tutors at theological college. It was called The Journey is my Home.
Lavinia Byrne was a Roman Catholic nun who very publicly left her Order in 2000 following years of bullying by the Vatican over her views on women’s ordination. Her autobiography was written in the wake of an event which was traumatic, yet conducted with such dignity her students would never have known had it not been for the press coverage she received.
It was this dignity which enabled those who knew her to see that Lavinia’s true home was in Jesus. Her roots, deep as they had been in her religious life, were not in the Order, but in Jesus. He was her true home even as she continued her journey.
Lavinia’s story illustrates today’s Gospel vividly. Jesus is the vine; those who follow him are the branches. Wherever our physical roots may be, the place we can flourish and call home is Jesus. Only when we are rooted in him can we bear spiritual fruit.
Lavinia’s roots in Jesus enabled her to survive very real trauma. And so it was for Jesus’ first disciples. Today we are back on the journey from the Upper Room, across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. We can imagine Jesus pausing by a wild vine, growing up a building in Jerusalem as he tells the disciples he is the vine.
Darkness, physical and spiritual is gathering fast. God, who tends the true vine, has already cut out the dead wood. Judas has departed and is preparing his act of betrayal even as Jesus teaches the disciples that they must remain in the vine if they are to be fruitful.
Frustratingly, the power of Jesus’ teaching is hidden in modern English versions. The King James Version with its insistence that Jesus’ disciples must abide in him is much closer to the original Greek. ‘Abide’. It’s not a word we use much in daily conversation, but it is a good one to use as we think about Jesus the vine and our relationship to him as disciples. ‘Abide’ has its roots in another English word which has fallen out of daily use: ‘Abode’, or home.
In teaching his followers that they must abide in him, Jesus is inviting them to make their home in him, whether it was the 11 disciples walking to Gethsemane, or 21st Century disciples in the Cross Country Parishes today.
it all sounds very safe, very comforting. Jesus is the vine, and he invites us to make our home in him. Except that our physical homes and the people we share them with are often the place which shapes us and our experience of the world.
It is no different when we make Jesus the vine our spiritual home. Jesus wants the best for his followers, and so he allows God the vine tender to tend his disciples. It is necessary if the vine is to remain healthy and Jesus’ followers are to grow both in maturity and in number.
Neglected vines grow inwards. Eventually the tendrils grow so tight that the light can no longer penetrate and the vine ceases to bear fruit. Healthy vines need to be pruned to ensure the light continues to shine in the heart of the vine so that it can continue to bear fruit.
So how can we make sure that we continue to abide in Jesus, making our home in him, growing to maturity and growing in number? It begins by having a relationship with Jesus, and that requires not just gathering together on Sundays, but spending time with Jesus daily, reading the Word of God in the Bible, spending time with Jesus in prayer, recognising his presence day in day out, hour by hour, minute by minutes in every area of life.
That might be demanding, but spending time with Jesus still sounds comfortable… except that in spending time with Jesus, we will learn to recognise the times when God needs to prune us so that we remain fruitful. It is the only way we can continue to mature.
More than that, it is the only way in which the vine can continue to grow. For our fruitfulness is not for our benefit. It is not about our self-improvement. It is for the benefit of the Kingdom of God, so that others can find their home in Jesus and put their roots deeply into him.
S Anne Lawson
The Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Easter
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
The Post-Communion Prayer for the Fifth Sunday of Easter
whose Son Jesus Christ is the way,
the truth and the life:
grant us to walk in his way,
to rejoice in his truth
and to share his risen life;
who is alive and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
Sing to the Lord a new song
For he has done marvellous things.
Jesus, you are the vine and we are your branches.
Keep us abiding in your life and love.
Prune and tend your Church that it may bear fruitful disciples of your grace.
Jesus, the Ethiopian Official sought to understand your good news.
Expand the hearts and minds of all in authority to pursue truth and justice.
Bring reason for all people to rejoice.
Jesus, your love sets our hearts ablaze.
Open the hears of all people to reflect this love in ways that nurture and foster character.
Strengthen all who support parenting and provide guidance to the young.
Jesus, your love goes before us and we respond with adoration and praise.
Give to all who are afflicted grace to bathe in your love….
Raise us to delight in your loving purposes through good times and bad.
Jesus, we are made for your love.
Do not forget the children you made.
We give you thanks for all who have died…
and have gone before us.
May we all come to abide with you for ever.
accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Love Is His Word 19Feb2017 - YouTube
Lord of the Dance Lyric Video - YouTube
Lord, Enthroned In Heavenly Splendour - YouTube
I, The Lord Of Sea And Sky - YouTube