Father God, who by your grace has put onto our minds good desires, help us to bring them to good effect through Jesus our risen Lord.
The wonderful passage from John’s gospel about Jesus as the vine and we as the branches gives us an opportunity to think about the love that God has for us in that we are invited to dwell in him and him in us. During my training for ministry the best and most memorable occasion was when we spent an entire morning looking at this passage and considering just what it means to be rooted and grounded in Christ. Jesus tells us that we are to abide in him, to be an integral part of God himself.
The reading from the first letter of John also reminds us of the riches of God’s love. The reading says, ‘God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is life, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for sins.’ God loves us so much, he wants us to be so close to him that he lives in us and we are perfected by his love. This indwelling of us in God and God in us is essential for our growth in Christ and for the growth of the church in the world.
God’s love and care for us is such that he treats us as branches of his vine. We are part of the stock of God.
When a vine grower plants a vineyard what does he expect to get from his vines? Grapes of course! But what he wants is not just any old grapes what he really wants is the best quality grapes that the vines can produce. In order to achieve this he cares for his vines through pruning and careful cultivation. He gets rid of unfruitful or diseased branches and prunes the others to produce the highest possible yield. And this is what God does to us; he tends and cares for us in such a way that we too can produce fruit for him.
Our passage then has two themes: firstly God loves us unconditionally and secondly he wants us to produce fruit for him.
Through our abiding in Christ we can learn to live for him. We are called to be his ambassadors here on earth. The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch puts this into perspective. Philip was in the right place at the right time and this is what we must seek to do. We need to be ready to respond to the call of God on our time and on our resources. We don’t know what God will require of us, just as Philip didn’t know he would be meeting with the Ethiopian, but he was ready, willing and able to fulfil the task set before him. Are we so ready, willing and able? The wonderful truth is that God makes us ready for the tasks he has planned for us. If our gifts are in worship through music, then we are provided with the necessary skills to meet this challenge. If we are called to service through prayer or service to others again God gives us the ability to meet these needs. And God prepares us through training us and pruning us so that we are fit to undertake the jobs that he has set for us.
There are all kinds of ways in which we can be better prepared to work for God. The diocese provides training courses of all kinds, we can join together in prayer and Bible study and we can co-operate with each other in working for the benefit of other people.
It will soon be Christian Aid Week and there are plans for a Team walk through all four parishes to raise money for Christian Aid. This is an excellent opportunity to join together to bear fruit for Christ. So let’s do all we can to make this event a success in our parishes and in the Team. Let’s all get involved to bear fruit for Christ by helping others who are in desperate need of our support and assistance. This is one way we can act as branches of God’s vine.
So as we give thanks for being rooted and grounded in God let us pray,’ Give us Lord, a vision of your Kingdom as your love desires it, a world where the weak are protected and none go hungry, a world where life is shared, and enjoyed by all, a world where all races, nations and cultures live in tolerance and respect, a world where peace is built and justice is guided by love, and give us the inspiration and courage to build it.’ Amen.
Rev’d Chris Jamieson