Reflection – 27 February 2022

Here’s my reflection for Sunday 27 February.

Wherever you are in the world you can join in with the worship using this link to Zoom – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84890359132 – worship starts at 11.00 GMT.

Mark

Order of Service – 27 February 2022

Something to watch and listen to first


We are branches, rooted in the vine of Christ.

We come because we seek to abide in Christ.

The branches that remain in the vine bear much fruit.

We come because we long to be spiritually vibrant, alive, productive.

If we abide in Christ, then Christ’s words will abide in us.

We come because we strive to be faithful disciples.

We gather for worship now to the glory of the One God: 

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.

May we grow wildly as God tends us lovingly. 

Let’s sing our first hymn. An appropriate one for this week I feel

For the Healing of the Nations

For the healing of the nations,

       Lord, we pray with one accord;

for a just and equal sharing

       of the things that earth affords.

To a life of love in action

       help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead your people into freedom,

       from despair your world release,

that, redeemed from war and hatred,

       all may come and go in peace.

Show us how, through care and goodness,

       fear will die and hope increase.

All that kills abundant living,

       let it from the earth be banned:

pride of status, race or schooling,

       dogmas that obscure your plan.

In our common quest for justice

       may we hallow life’s brief span.

You, Creator-God, have written

       your great name on humankind;

for our growing in your likeness,

       bring the life of Christ to mind;

that by our response and service

       earth its destiny may find.

Let us Pray

Lord, we would grow with you
New shoots reaching out
Hands stretched upward
Like leaves newly formed
Soaking up your light and warmth
Lord, we would grow with you

Lord, we would grow with you
In sunshine and rain
In darkness and light
In cold days and summer days
From Springtime to Winter
Lord, we would grow with you

Lord, we would grow with you
And bring forth fruit
That is pleasing to you
Fed by your living water
Giving sustenance to others
Lord, we would grow with you

Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Here’s today’s quiz. The answers are at the end

1In which countries is champagne made:
France and Germany; France and Belgium; Just France
2Which country produces the most wine in the world?
3Which of these grapes can be used to make champagne:
Chardonnay; Pinot noir; Pinot Meunier
4From which country does the wine Rioja come?
5Barossa Valley is a wine producing area of which country?
6Rose wine is usually made by mixing red wine and white wine – true or false?
7In which town was Jesus when he turned water into wine?
8In which gospel is Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine recorded?
9What is a oenophile?
10The UK’s most northerly commercial vineyard is in Scotland – true or false?

It’s our final week looking at the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus.

I wonder how many of the previous 6 we can remember?

Here they are

  • I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
  • I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
  • I am the Door (John 10:9)
  • I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
  • I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
  • I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)

So today’s last one is ‘I am the Vine’

Let’s hear the passage from John’s gospel John 15:

Jesus the Real Vine

15 “I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples. I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another.

Jesus says ‘I am the vine’ – another metaphor.

Let’s watch a short clip from a film. This is from Sideways, about a man, played by Paul Giamatti who really loves wine and knows a lot about it.

Here he’s talking about his favourite grape variety – Pjnot Noir – and the care it needs to look after it and make it grow well.

Not all grapes are the same it seems.

Let’s explore that vine metaphor a little. Today I want you to think about a vine.

Here are a few questions I’d like you to answer:

  1. What do you have to do to a vine to look after it?
  2. How do you know if you’ve succeeded?
  3. How might a vine be a good metaphor for our relationship with Jesus?

Have a think and maybe write down your thoughts before reading on

Here are some of my thoughts

Looking after a vine:

  • Plant it in the right place – not too cold
  • Train it on wires
  • Prune it – it’s the branches that will bear fruit that are pruned. They’re not just left to their own devices but need continuing attention to reach their potential
  • Keep the frost off the blossom
  • Thin out the fruit so the grapes grow bigger
  • Harvest it at the right time – when the grapes are ripe
  • Have a mix of different varieties – a blend can be a better wine
  • Make sure the varieties suit the terrain and the climate

How do you know if you’ve succeeded:

  • You get a good harvest
  • You end up with good wine

Just a thought from me at this point

  • Grape juice isn’t a drink it’s a raw material

A good metaphor

  • Grapes can’t grow without a vine
  • The vine gives firm roots so it isn’t blown or washed away
  • It needs care – it won’t do it’s best if it’s left to its own devices
  • They live for a long time – over a human lifetime
  • As we saw in the film clip – there are many different types of grape.

Our second hymn is one based on our reading and the ‘I am the vine’ theme. It’s called ‘Remain in me, I am the vine’

Remain in me, I am the vine.
Remain in me; you shall have life.
You are the branches: bear fruit for all to see.
I am the vine, remain in me.

No branch can live without the tree,
Nor grow or serve apart from me.
This I have told you that you may see
My love in you, your joy complete.

No longer slaves, I call you friends.
I shall be with you to the end.
Keep my commandments; I dwell in you.
So, now bear witness to the truth.

As I have done so you should do,

So as to love as I love you.
For in your witness, my love is shown;
In simple ways, my heart made known.

As I died, so too shall you die.
As I rose, so too shall you rise.
Do not be troubled: your eyes have seen.
You trust in God, have trust in me.

I am the way, the truth, the life.
I am your living sacrifice.
I offer freely my life for you.
Go now and do as I would do.

In my closing thoughts I want to concentrate on one idea from the Bible passage.

We’ve done a lot of thinking about the metaphor of the vine. It’s a strong image and a very encouraging one. The branches of the vine are after all part of the vine itself. They aren’t separate things but are a single entity. The sap from the main stem of the vine is the same sap that flows through the branches and the leaves on the branches of the vine are what allows the whole plant to survive grow and thrive. The branches can’t survive without the stem – but the stem can’t survive without the branches.

But what I want to speak about for just a minute or two is this – how does Jesus say we can continue to be so closely tied up with him? Jesus uses the word remain a lot in the passage and these verses that I will read again now seem to me to summarise what Jesus says you need to do to remain in him:

I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 

To condense things still further – Jesus says

If you obey my commands you will remain in my love.

My commandment is this: love one another.

In other words if you love one another you will remain in my love.

That’s it. Really quite simple. No requirements from Jesus as to what you need to believe. All about how you behave.

That in my book is what Jesus’ message is all about.

And it means that remaining in Jesus – being part of this huge, fruitful, eternal vine is open to everyone and anyone who can obey that command to love one another.

All the rituals, the sacraments, the hymns and the prayers that we have are futile if we don’t love one another.

And if we do love one another perhaps we don’t actually need the rituals, sacraments, hymns and prayers.

Let’s have our prayers of intercession

When  I say God we pray for your earthly family,

Can you say That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be, God our Friend, if we all kept our lives grafted in Christ Jesus, the True Vine, and like good branches produced the bountiful fruits of his Spirit.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we cared for the sick and the handicapped, the diseased and the mentally ill, like Jesus did.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we sought the lost and bewildered people and restored their dignity and hope, as Jesus did.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we opened our hearts to misfits and outcastes, and our arms to the untouchables, as Jesus did.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we practised forgiving our enemies, and doing good to those who spitefully abuse us, like Jesus did.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we let others borrow what we have, and gave gifts without looking for reward, as Jesus did.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we created a new community out of disparate types of people, as Jesus did with his disciples.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

What a great world it would be if we were prepared to carry our own crosses with the courage and faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

   God we pray for your earthly family,

   That they may know the fullness of your love.

Loving God, bind us close to your lovely Christ, let his Spirit flow within us, healing our defects and enabling us to produce the fruits of love both in and out of season. To the glory of your name. Amen!

Merciful God, 
who is more than we can ever imagine, 
give us a wider vision of the world; 
give us a broader view of justice; 
give us dreams of peace 
that are not defined by boundaries of geography

or race or religion, 
or by the limitations of worldly structures and systems. 

Open our eyes and our ears
that wherever we go, 
we may hear your voice calling us by name; 
calling us to serve, 
calling us to share, 
calling us to praise, 
so that we never give up on the promise of your kingdom, 
where the world is transformed, 
and all can enjoy life in all its fullness. 
Amen.

Hymn – A new commandment

A new commandment I give unto you,
that you love one another as I have loved you,
that you love one another as I have loved you.


By this may all know you are my disciples,
if you have love one for another;
by this may all know you are my disciples:
if you have love one for another

The grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all now

and for evermore.

Amen.

Quiz answers

1In which countries is champagne made:
France and Germany; France and Belgium; Just France
Just France
2Which country produces the most wine in the world?Italy
3Which of these grapes can be used to make champagne:
Chardonnay; Pinot noir; Pinot Meunier
All of them
4From which country does the wine Rioja come?Spain
5Barossa Valley is a wine producing area of which country?Australia
6Rose wine is usually made by mixing red wine and white wine – true or false?False
7In which town was Jesus when he turned water into wine?Cana
8In which gospel is Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine recorded?John’s gospel
9What is a oenophile?A wine lover    
10The UK’s most northerly commercial vineyard is in Scotland – true or false?False – it’s in Yorkshire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.