Jan welcomed us all and led us in the
Call to worship- (Together)
Come to the vine-keeper all those who bear fruit.
Abide in the one who abides in us.
Grafted branches, pruned and nurtured,
Come those who abide in Jesus, to bear much fruit for the reign of God.
Come all of us who can do little on our own,
Be part of the vine and the branches.
Hymn TIS 431 “Thanks to God, whose word was spoken.” We thanked God for his plan to redeem the people of his creation and for his spirit that speaks to each of us.
Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving Using the analogy of our being plants tended by a gardener, Jan praised God for his compassion as he tends us, pruning and grafting where necessary to produce in us the people he wants us to be.
Prayer of Confession Jan prayed that God might "Refresh all the branches of our being, O God. Free us from the guilt and mistakes which stop us from growing." She confessed on our behalf that we are often unwilling to change, resisting God's hand and closing ourselves off, failing to find new ways.
Words of Assurance
The rich source of our life in God is everlasting.
It never dies or shrivels away in harsh judgement.
It simply waits for us to free the way for the renewal of grace.
When we approach our God in faith, we are always forgiven.
Thanks be to God.
Hymn As One Voice No 71 ‘Gather your people, O Lord.’ We prayed that God would not only gather us at the table but in the world, sharing his peace.
In this part of the service we remembered the story of the first shared meal in the upper room when Jesus broke bread and poured out wine, symbolizing his broken body and shed blood on the cross. In response to this story of promise we joined together, singing:
Holy, holy, holy Lord God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. All glory to your name. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest. The bread and wine were then blessed and shared after which we joined, to say: As this broken bread was scattered through the fields and hills before being gathered to become one, so may we and all people be gathered from the ends of the earth into Christ's kingdom.
Acts 8:26-40 and John 15:1-11 were read by Caroline. In Acts we hear of the Ethiopian eunuch meeting Philip. The eunuch was seeking the truth but couldn't unravel the meaning of the passage he was reading. Philip stepped in to help, resulting in the Ethiopian finding understanding and seeking baptism.
John's message was that of Jesus being the true vine, and of us being the branches. Jan was to combine the messages of these two readings in her sermon.
Sermon- “Abide in Christ’s love.” Jan's leading statement was that: Abiding in Christ's love helps us grow and moves us to share the good news of Jesus with others. Following last week's message of loving and caring for others, Jan introduced the image of the vine as describing our connection to God and the fact that our life comes from God. Jan spoke of the complex preparations that are needed to produce the grape crop...a simple process that has become very scientific. Jan then spoke of her orange tree and the function of the roots and each part of the plant in distributing nutrition thoughout the plant. Jan then likened our relationship to God with the vine, with Jesus as the vine and the Father as the vine-grower. If we belong to Jesus, we are part of the vine...branches, leaves, grapes, stems etc. It is only as we draw on the nourishment of the vine that we can fulfil our true purpose. "Abide in me as I abide in you, just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing."
Jan went onto advise us that we need to abide in Christ...spend quality time with him. In this way we become more like Jesus. In the Christian community we are called to produce the fruits of justice and love but to do so faithfully we must be prepared to have God change us (prune away the unwanted parts) to encourage the better parts to grow.
The early disciples abided in Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in them. They met, they broke bread and shared the message of the risen Lord. Philip and others moved out into the rest of the world, spreading the good news of Jesus' love and forgiveness.
Philip was able to explain to the eunuch that Jesus offered new life and forgiveness to all. Our mission is to follow Philip's example...we seek to be bearers of the love of Christ, with his love abiding in and flowing through us to others.
Hymn TIS 588 ‘In heavenly love abiding’ In this hymn we sang of our absolute confidence in Christ's love to sustain us in all things.
Musical interlude before prayer
Prayers of Intercession
Dan prayed, as we gathered together, that through his spirit, God would be with us. Dan prayed for all those seeking work; for those in areas of conflict that they will be granted peace; for comfort for the sick; for wisdom for the decision makers. He continued, asking for God's support of all those affected by the floods and other disaster relief areas, especially Nepal. Dan prayed for Jan as she leads us and for ourselves he prayed that those bad habits will be pruned away.
Hymn TIS 239 ‘Jesus the Lord said, I am the bread’ In fact Jesus is all things to us. He answers every need.
Jan blessed us and then we sang together:
Hymn TIS 781 ‘Father bless us as we go, Jesus walk beside us, Holy Spirit guide us.