SUNDAY WORSHIP

Wesley is now open for worship on Sunday mornings at 10.30 a.m. and the service will be available on Zoom. For details of access please contact

circuit@northlancsmethodist.org.uk or Jenny Macking
The service on Sunday, May 16th will be conducted by Rev. David Philo

Web services for May will be prepared by the following people

2nd May Sister Vivien Ward
9th May Sandra Lucas
16th May Rev. Andrew Champley
23rd May Rev. David Philo
30th May Susan Wilson

ASCENTIONTIDE SERVICE FOR SUNDAY MAY 16th prepared by Rev Andrew Champley

Call to worship
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
  (Hebrews 4:14,16)

Hymn: S t F 315  ‘We sing the praise of Jesus’

We sing the praise of Jesus,
of our ascending Lord;
the triumph of our Saviour,
of Christ the Son of God.
The forty days are over,
earth sees his face no more;
but Christ the King of glory
we worship and adore.

Rejoicing in Christ`s promise
we wait in prayer and praise,
the Spirit sent from heaven
to set the earth ablaze;
we pray with expectation,
we praise with one accord,
we wait for living fire,
the power of the Lord

Therefore with saints and angels
and all the hosts above
we lift our hearts and voices
to bless the God of love;
to sing of our Redeemer
who intercedes and prays,
that God the Holy Spirit
may guide us all our days.

With songs of alleluia
let earth and heaven ring;
and praises to the Father
let all creation sing.
All honour be to Jesus,
god`s own eternal son;
and to the Holy Spirit
let endless praise be done!

Prayers:

Gracious God, creator and giver of life, source of all that is, we give you thanks and praise.

Lord Jesus, risen and ascended, we adore you.

You came to live among us, content to be subject to the limitations of humanity, time and space, but now you are present with us, wherever we are, the same yesterday, today and for ever!

Holy Spirit, around us and within, we praise and adore you.

You are the promised gift, God at work in the world and in our lives.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, all praise and glory are yours now and always.   Amen

Merciful God, we come to you aware that we have failed you in many ways. We confess with shame that we have not loved you with our whole heart and mind. We have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. Forgive us for our selfishness, our thoughtlessness of others’ needs and for our faltering faith. Help us to live according to your ways. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Saviour.  Amen.

Lord of Hosts, purify our hearts that the King of Glory may come in,

Even your Son, Jesus, our Redeemer; for he is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Reading: Acts 1:1-11

Hymn: S t F  312 ‘The head that once was crowned with thorns’

The head that once was crowned with thorns
is crowned with glory now;
a royal diadem adorns
the mighty Victor’s brow.

The highest place that heaven affords
is his, is his by right,
the King of kings, and Lord of lords,
and heaven’s eternal Light;

The joy all of all who dwell above,
the joy of all below,
to whom he manifests his love
and grants his Name to know.

To them the cross with all its shame,
with all its grace is given;
their name, an everlasting name;
their joy, the joy of heaven.

They suffer with their Lord below,
they reign with him above,
their profit and their joy to know
the mystery of his love.

The cross he bore is life and health,
though shame and death to him:
his people’s hope, his people’s wealth,
their everlasting theme.

Gospel: John 17:6-19

Reflection

Saying ‘goodbye’ can often be difficult. Even when we know that we shall probably see the person again because they are moving to a new area or a new job, a farewell can be quite emotional. As someone said, ‘Why can’t there be beginnings without endings?’
It’s all the more difficult when we know that we shall not see the person again, particularly in the loss of a loved one through death.
Ascension marks the point when the disciples had to say their final goodbye to Jesus, the one they loved and revered. Luke gives accounts of this parting in his gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles.
In the gospel Luke tells us that after they had been parted, ‘They returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple, blessing God’. Isn’t this somewhat surprising? Surely we might think, they would be saddened rather than joyful.
After all, Jesus had told his disciples that after a time, they would not see him. In that passage from St .John’s gospel, Jesus says to the Father, ‘Now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world’.
So doesn’t ascension mean the absence of Christ? Like us, the disciples could no longer see Jesus.
Ascension marks the end of his appearances after the resurrection. It ends also what has been called ‘the scandal of particularity’ – that is
Jesus being confined to one particular place and time and to one particular culture -that of 1st century Palestine. Now there is no longer such particularity. Jesus is now all the world’s, no longer restricted to a particular place and time.
As Brian Wren puts it:
‘Christ is alive! No longer bound to distant years in Palestine,
But saving, healing, here and now and touching every place and time’ (Singing the Faith 297)
What’s more, Jesus parted from his disciples with a promise that ‘They would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them’
So, rather than sadness, it was with joy and a sense of expectation that the disciples returned to Jerusalem. This is a joy we share as we celebrate the ascension.
So what happened on that day? We know very little of the exact nature of the parting; the cloud is a symbol of God’s presence as in the Old Testament and Luke echoes the account of Elijah’s translation into heaven, when Elisha, the one chosen to carry on the prophetic work, ‘saw him no more’. It’s an ending but also a beginning.
For us, there is great comfort in Jesus’ ascending to the Father, because his ministry continues on our behalf. He is the one who intercedes for us. As 1 John puts it: ‘If we sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous’. This ministry of Jesus is seen as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘He bore the sin of many and makes intercession for his transgressors’. The heavenly ministry of Jesus is to plead our cause, to present us to God. What a wonderful thought that is!
Ascension is sometimes described as the exaltation of Christ or even the coronation of Christ the King. Ephesians speaks of Christ being ‘far above all rule and authority…and above every name.’
No part of the universe (which is beyond our imagining) is barred to God. Everything is subject to him. Christ is supreme -he rules.
Yet what does that mean? We only have to look at the world around us to realise that many do not recognise any such rule nor seek to live by it. The writer to Hebrews helps us to understand when he says: ‘We do not yet see everything in subjection to him…but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour’.
The first disciples were told to wait and while they were waiting they devoted themselves to prayer -something we all can do.
As Christians we all live in a time of waiting. The kingdom has come in Jesus, but is not yet fully realised. We are part of the kingdom here and now and, as his people, we seek to live by the rule of Christ.
For the disciples, ascension was a new beginning as well as an ending. After Pentecost they were enabled by the Holy Spirit to fulfil their calling as witnesses -the same calling we have today.
For us, this is a time of new beginning and we have the same Spirit to help us in our calling.
The risen and exalted Christ is a present reality. For us Christ is now what in God’s time he will be for all creation.

Hymn: S t F 319 ‘Christ triumphant ever reigning’

 Christ triumphant, ever reigning,
Saviour, Master, King!
Lord of heaven, our lives sustaining,
hear us as we sing:
Yours the glory and the crown,
the high renown, the eternal name.

2 Word incarnate, truth revealing,
Son of Man on earth!
power and majesty concealing
by your humble birth:
Yours the glory…

3 Suffering servant, scorned, ill – treated,
victim crucified!
death is through the cross defeated,
sinners justified:
Yours the glory…

4 Priestly king, enthroned for ever
high in heaven above!
sin and death and hell shall never
stifle hymns of love:
Yours the glory…

5 So, our hearts and voices raising
through the ages long,
ceaselessly upon you gazing,
this shall be our song:
Yours the glory…

Michael Saward (born 1932)

Prayers of Intercession (at the end of Christian Aid Week)

Holy God, you have called us to follow the way of your risen and ascended Son and to care for our brothers and sisters throughout the world. To love not only in words but in action, seeking to be good neighbours to all.
We pray for world leaders, that they may seek peace and justice for their peoples. We pray for those who are poor or homeless, for refugees and victims of war and for all who seek to bring help to them. We pray for the work of Christian Aid and for all who seek to bring about change where there is poverty, and suffering.
We pray for the church and its leaders, for our church and all who are part of it; for the community which we seek to serve.
We pray for those in need -for all who suffer as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic; for those we know who are unwell or bereaved; for the lonely, the unemployed and those who suffer abuse.
We offer these and all our prayers in the name of Jesus.     Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn: S t F 342 ‘All hail the power of Jesu’s name’

1 All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown him Lord of all.

2 You seed of Israel’s chosen race
you ransomed of the fall,
hail him who saves you by his grace,
and crown him Lord of all.

3 Hail him, the heir of David`s line
whom David Lord did call,
the God incarnate, Man divine
and crown him Lord of all.

4 Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball,
to him all majesty ascribe,
and crown him Lord of all.

5 O that with all the sacred throng
we at his feet may fall,
join in the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.

Final prayer

Almighty and everlasting Father,
You raised our Lord Jesus Christ to your right hand on high.
As we rejoice in his exaltation, fill us with his Spirit,
That we may go into all the world and faithfully proclaim the gospel.
Through Jesus Christy, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen



SERVICE FOR SUNDAY, MAY 9th prepared by Sandra Lucas

All hymns are from Singing the Faith

Call to Worship

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods. Come let us bow down in worship, for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

HYMN STF 334 Praise to the Holiest in the height.

Praise to the holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise;
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways!

O loving wisdom of our God!
when all was sin and shame,
a second Adam to the fight
and to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
which did in Adam fail,
should strive afresh against the foe,
should strive, and should prevail;

And that a higher gift than grace
should flesh and blood refine:
God’s presence and his very self,
and essence all-divine.

O generous love! that he who came
as man to smite the foe,
the double agony for us
as man should undergo:

And in the garden secretly,
and on the cross on high,
should teach his followers, and inspire
to suffer and to die.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
and in the depth be praise;
in all his words most wonderful,
most sure in all his ways!

Prayers of Praise Adoration Confession & Thanksgiving

Heavenly Father we praise and worship you and glorify your holy name. You are all powerful all knowing, you know each and every one of us, you know of the highs and the lows that we have to face each day. You are there with us all as we travel the path of life, you are with us helping us through difficult times. There are times when we fail to see the needs of others, those people less fortunate than we are. Times when we may have put our own needs first when all that was needed was maybe a friendly smile or a helping hand. We take a moment to bring before you all those times when we have failed. We know that if we are truly sorry all our wrong doings will be forgiven. We know because your Son Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour shed his blood to wash away all our wrongs. Father we thank you for your forgiveness and pray that with your help we will not make those same mistakes again. Father we thank you for all that you have done for us, and all that you continue to do for each and every one of us. We offer this prayer to you now in and through your Son, Our Lord and Our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN

The Lord’s Prayer

Readings. John 15:9-17 and 1 John 5:1-6

HYMN STF 531 What a friend we have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Saviour, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Message

Today we are going to take a closer look at the passage from John:15:9-17. This passage is part of the reading headed “The Vine and the Branches”.

What it was saying to the people then and what it is say to us today. In this passage we hear much about abiding with Christ. If we were to look at the people who were about when Jesus was on earth, and we look at people today there is a likeness that we all have, and that is that none of us are perfect. There are times when if we were to look back we can see that we have not gone the right way, and in some cases we may have made a mess of things. We also know that if we are sorry for this we will be forgiven and it will not be held against us.

There are times when people have nowhere to sleep and do not know when they are going to eat again. These people need help and as we know there are many organisations who bring help to them. We know that in some cases people have opened up their homes to those in need. Unfortunately there are some people who will not accept help from others and things only get worse for them. We know from the many stories that we read in the bible that Jesus never turned his back on those in need. Jesus would help people where ever it was possible, regardless of what the cost may be for him. Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches.

We know that throughout Jesus’s earthly life he felt the need to go somewhere where he could be alone. He wanted time to spend talking to God the Father, it may have been that he wanted advice or help and Jesus knew that the only way to get help was to talk to his Father. He knew that with others around him he would be distracted and drawn away for what he wanted to do. Jesus was turning to God the Father to find out what and where the Father wanted him to go next. We know that the disciples would ask Jesus what was the right thing to do, what was the right way to go. And we know that Jesus told them what they needed to do next to further God’s kingdom here on earth. Again we see Jesus helping others to go the right way. The main words of this passage of scripture are those in which Jesus says that his disciples have not chosen him, but that he has chosen the disciples. It is not we who chose God, but God who in his grace, approached us each with a call and an offer made out of his love for each one of us. We are chosen for joy. There are people who say that the Christian way of life is hard, may be we have to travel to do things, but there is always joy when we do the right thing. William Barclay in his commentary on this passage says that Christians are men and women of joy. We know that we have all sinned at some time in our lives, for none of us are perfect, but the joy is that we as Christians are redeemed sinners, and there lies our joy.

We have been chosen for love. God the Father loves us, and he showed this by sending his Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for each one of us gather together. As Christians we have a responsibility to show that love that we have got to others, so that they too will come to know Jesus and learn of what he has done for them. We can show this love in many ways, firstly we can love our neighbour, some would say that is difficult. God loves us and we must show that love to others so that they to will share in the love of God. We can show our love and the love of God by helping those who may have difficulty in dealing with something when all they need is a helping hand. We can show this love that God has shown us by not turning away from something that we may find hard to do, God will help each and every one of us through difficult times.

The third thing that Jesus calls us to do is to be his friends. Jesus told his disciples that he does not call them slaves but that he calls them his friends. Jesus says “ I have something greater for you yet, you are no longer slaves you are each a friend” and he is saying that to you and I today. Christ offer an intimacy with God the Father which not even the greatest of people on this earth knew about before Jesus came.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and with that comes a responsibility and that is to show others the love of God. To show others that no matter who they are, no matter what they have done, God’s love is for all and not a chosen few. We are living in very difficult times when its hard to know which is the right way to go. As Christians we are able to share the love of God with others, so that no matter what they are facing they know that they are not alone, that God the Father is with them. We have a wonderful example in what Jesus did for us let others know so that they too will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Prayers of Intercession.

Jesus, light of the world, bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations, we especially think of those nations where there is still fighting going on. Places where people are afraid to venture outside for fear of what may happen to them. We pray that all these countries affected this way will see that more can be achieved through love than through war.

Jesus, Lord of life
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the bread of life,
give food to the hungry and we especially think of nations where there is a food shortage, people not knowing where their next meal is going to come from.
We pray that these people will be nourished with your word.

Jesus, Lord of life
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth and our life, be with us and all who follow you in the way, we remember those people who spend their days bringing the good news of your gospel to others. We think of those people who see the love that you have for them, through what they hear others say. We pray that you deepen our appreciation of your truth, and fill us with your life.

Jesus, Lord of life
in your mercy hear us.

Jesus the good shepherd, who gave your life for the sheep, surround with care, those in particular need and we especially think of those people who are having to deal with the effects of Covid. We pray for the doctors and nurses who are having to deal with this problem, we pray for each and every one of them, that they will know that we appreciate all that they are doing for others.

Jesus, Lord of life
in your mercy hear us.

Jesus the resurrection and the life, we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you, we remember those who bring your word to us, we remember those people who visit those who can not get out, and take your word to them. Each showing your love to others. We remember those who are not longer with us, but helped to show us the way, raise us with them to eternal life.

Jesus, Lord of life
in your mercy hear us.


We offer these our prayers for others to you now, in and through your Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

AMEN

HYMN 736 In heavenly love abiding

1 In heavenly love abiding,
no change my heart shall fear;
and safe is such confiding,
for nothing changes here:
the storm may roar without me,
my heart may low be laid;
but God is round about me,
and can I be dismayed?

2 Wherever he may guide me,
no want shall turn me back;
my Shepherd is beside me,
and nothing can I lack:
his wisdom ever waketh,
his sight is never dim,
he knows the way he taketh,
and I will walk with him.

3 Green pastures are before me,
which yet I have not seen;
bright skies will soon be o’er me,
where darkest clouds have been;
my hope I cannot measure,
my path to life is free;
my Saviour has my treasure,
and he will walk with me.

Grace

May 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 forever more.

AMEN.

SERVICE FOR SUNDAY MAY 2nd, prepared by Sister Vivien Ward
All hymns are from Singing the Faith

Call to worship  

God is the Creator,
we are the created. Let us abide in the Creator.


Jesus is the vine,
we are the branches. Let us abide in the Vine.


The Spirit can live in us
We want live in the Spirit. Let us abide in the Spirit.

Our God is a Trinitarian God
abiding in relationship.
We, too, shall abide in the Trinity

 
HYMN  608  “All praise to our redeeming Lord”

All praise to our redeeming Lord,
  Who joins us by His grace,
And bids us, each to each restored,
  Together seek His face,


 He bids us build each other up;
  And, gathered into one,
To our high calling’s glorious hope,
  We hand in hand go on,

The gift which He on one bestows,
 We all delight to prove;
The grace through every vessel flows,
  In purest streams of love,
  
We all partake the joy of one;
  The common peace we feel;
A peace to worldly minds unknown,
  A joy unspeakable,
 
And if our fellowship below
  In Christ yet be so sweet,
What height of rapture shall we know,
  When round His throne we meet,
   

Prayers

Adoration 

Eternal God, the origin of all that is
we draw together to worship and praise You.
We know, from the depths of our hearts to the top of our minds
that everything we have and everything we can yet become
is rooted in Your provision and care for all of us.
Help us to worship You as the source of our being.
Enable us to adore You as the beating heart of our life.
Amen

Confession 

Honest God              
true confession forces us to look beyond the superficial, and so we look deeper into our souls today.
We dig below our healing or hurting words and our thoughtful or thoughtless actions.
We search for that which truly motivates our words and deeds
We think of the people we have become – of our ego, our pride, our desire.
In the quietness of Your nurturing presence reveal where we are in need of pruning.
Cut out that which does not bud through the life of Christ or blossom with the love of Christ.
Weed out that which causes You, ourselves and others pain.
Nourish with living water the very roots of who we are.
In the name of the One in whom we seek to abide always,
Christ our Lord.

Amen    

Thanksgiving

O give thanks to the Lord, who sends His angels with sure words.
Faithful God, You direct Your followers to take the road from successful events to challenges that break new ground.
You strengthen those who journey in the expectation that You will provide opportunities for service
Your presence supports the humble who wait patiently to hear Your whisper “Come near”.
Use us, Lord, for Your glory:
Right here, right now and in any place at any time.
This we pray.
Amen


Supplication

Loving God, who cares for us as a gardener tends the plant.
Help us to remain in Your love.
When our lives are flourishing filled with success and the joy of community
Help us to remain in Your love.
When our hopes are withering, bent down under the weight of disappointment and despair.
Help us to remain in Your love.
When we feel cut off from others, isolated by illness or pain or  aloneness.
Help us always to remain in Your love.

Reading

St. John’s gospel ch.15 vs 1 – 8

Jesus is the Vine – followers are branches

         Jesus said “I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He repeatedly prunes, so that it will bear more fruit even richer and finer fruit.

You are already clean because of the word which I have given you the teachings which I have discussed with you. 

Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith unless you remain in Me.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for otherwise apart from Me – that is, cut off from vital union with Me – you can do nothing. 

If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a broken off branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you – that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart -, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. 

My Father is glorified and honoured by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My true disciples”. 

HYMN  443 Come, let us sing of a wonderful love

Come let us sing of a wonderful love,
tender and true;
out of the heart of the Father above,
streaming to me and to you:
wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,
joyfully came;
came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
sharing their sorrow and shame;
seeking the lost,
saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;
why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget;
home! weary wanderer, home!
Wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

Come to my heart, O thou wonderful love,
come and abide,
lifting my life till it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride:
seeking to be
lowly and humble, a learner of thee.

Prayers of intercession

Let us pray to the Lord God Almighty in whom we live and move and have our being.
Father, we want to produce good fruit in abundance;
Nurture us as branches of the true vine,
train and prune us where necessary and
may our spiritual harvest make rich wine of Your kingdom.

Father, clearly we see around our world the tragic and expensive consequences of branches cut off from the true vine.
We pray for a seeking after Your truth and a desire to act rightly and justly in all areas of human society.

Father, we pray for those to whom we are linked by family, friendship or work
Especially we pray for those separated from their loves ones, their homes, their friends and their work mates.
Father, we long for healing and wholeness in all who suffer. physically, mentally emotionally or spiritually or live in dysfunctional communities;
Guide us to understand how we might be part of the healing.
Father, we know that death cannot separate us from Your love.
In that knowledge we commend to Your keeping those who have died and all  who miss them.
Your kingdom, let it come
Your will, let it be done.

Father we thank You that we can live in the joyful freedom of Your love as we dedicate ourselves to serving others.

Merciful Father, Accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name
Your kingdom come Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are Yours
now and forever.
Amen

Sermon

Now, why do you think Jesus was talking about vines, branches, fruit and a vinedresser?.

Vineyards were a plenty in Israel, they were everywhere, a very familiar sight indeed and not only that but also it was also familiar to the Jews because it was a part of Judaism.
The description of Israel in the Old Testament, is often that of a vine or vineyard.  The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel (Isaiah 5:1–7) and the vinedresser was God.

The Temple that Jesus knew was known as Herod’s temple. In around 20 BC, the building that had been desecrated by the Romans was renovated and expanded by Herod the Great, which was later destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD during the Siege of Jerusalem.  The temple had white columns and the columns as well as the part above the columns had a Golden Vine. It is recorded that “A golden vine stood over the entrance to the sanctuary”, So, you see, the people of Jesus’ time would have readily understood the use of such imagery it was a part of their culture and religion.
In the New Testament, vines and vineyards feature frequently in the parables which Jesus told his followers.
Now, I hesitate to say I am a gardener  but I do like to potter and when something comes right like flowers bloom – fruit appears on the trees and soft fruits grow and the vegetables are edible … I’m over the moon. 
I read books and look up things on the internet and take advice from those who know – even so …  I still make mistakes.
I know trees have to be pruned but I do have to leave some branches on the tree or else there is never going to be any fruit at all – so it’s a job that has to be done carefully.

Jesus said “I am the true vine and My Father is the Vinedresser”.
Jesus then tells us that we are branches of the true vine and that we should be producing good fruit and that every branch that doesn’t produce good fruit, the Vinedresser prunes it so that we might produce good fruit.
Pruning is about cutting away diseased parts and getting rid of invading insects and sometimes cutting away healthy but unwanted shoots so that the branch can grow stronger and in the right direction.  
And what about the branches that are not pruned?   Either they are perfect or the Vinedresser is about to prune the worthless branches.  As in the case of Judas?

 
What is the fruit?
The fruit is love and obedience; they are the marks of true discipleship. They are to be the desires and intentions of every Christian. 

Jesus and His 11 disciples have left the upper room and are now on their way to Jerusalem and all that that meant.  He is speaking to His disciples about the true Vine and the Vinedresser and He says to them “You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you”.  What does that mean? 
It means they have been pruned.   The true believers are pruned through the Word and their experience of union with the vine.
That doesn’t mean that they won’t get things wrong in the future, or make mistakes and become dirty, so to speak. So how do they become clean again? They become clean through Jesus, the Word of God, the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will clean them whenever they get dirty.

The best vine is Jesus, because He is the true vine and what better place can we be, if not attached to the true vine.  True vines produce the best fruit.

So you see when we don’t produce good fruit something needs to be done.  Pruning has to be done very carefully indeed.
God knows what has to be done and we have to let Him do what He must do. 
May be we are not eager for that to happen?  Then what?
Our fruit isn’t as good as it could be. Then what? 
The goodness of the true vine fails to get through to the branch and then what?
It either produces bad fruit, no fruit – or dies.
This is what Jesus is saying “I  AM THE  TRUE  VINE not  Tom Dick or Harry or wealth, status or importance is the true vine …………. IT’S ME …  I  AM  THE  TRUE  VINE”
You must be attached to ME.  To no body else. To no thing else.
TO  ME. 
It’s about relationship.  Having a relationship with Jesus.
“Abide in Me and I in you” What lovely words and what a lovely relationship. 
What can the branches do without this abiding? ABSOLUTELY  NOTHING!
Some branches grow even without abiding in Jesus, the Word of God, but they are not on the ‘true vine’ and their fruits are neither of, nor for God. What happens to them? 
Jesus says that they are gathered together and thrown on the fire.
“Abide in Me and I in you.
The relationship is such, that an answer is given to all requests, for they are asked in His name and in line with the Father’s will.
God is glorified in such fruitfulness
How do we abide in Jesus?
By keeping His commandments
That is important because Jesus wouldn’t have kept repeating it while giving His final instructions to His disciples.  Keeping His commandments is so important because … we can’t stay on the vine unless we do, and that makes Jesus happy. 
What does it mean for us?
It means we have to abide, reside, dwell in Jesus and have Jesus abide, reside and dwell in us – its called a loving relationship.
We do that by reading His word, finding out what it means for us by using a commentary and letting Jesus speak to our heart.  We have to listen as well as speak to Him.
It means obeying His commandments;
To love God with everything we have and are;
To love our neighbour, whoever and in whatever condition they are and wherever they are – as much as we love ourselves whether we like them or not or whether they like us or not.   He also put it this way  “Love one another as I have loved you” 
and that is a big ask and it is not always easy and sometimes it goes against our natural inclinations – but we do it – OK.
Keeping His commandments makes Jesus happy and what more could we want to do – than to do that?
Lord God,  You don’t make life easy do You?.  You ask a lot of me and sometimes, just sometimes, I might think You go too far and I can’t possibly do what You ask.  I know I can’t do it but with You living in me I know I should and I know I can. 
Lord abide in me help to be that person You want me to be because I know I shall make you happy, and I like that.  Amen

HYMN  297  “Christ is alive”

Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
the cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
His love in death shall never die.

Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
 but saving healing, here and now,
and touching every place and time.

In every insult, rift and war,
where colour, scorn or wealth divide,
he suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, where even hope has died.

Women and men, in age and youth,
can feel the Spirit, hear the call,
and find the way, the life, the truth,
revealed in Jesus, freed for all

Christ is alive!  And comes to bring
good news to this and every age,
till earth and sky and ocean ring
with joy, with justice, love and praise.

Benediction

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
is with us now and for always.
Amen