O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
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
I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem;
Jerusalem, built as a city
that is at unity in itself.
Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,
as is decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there are set the thrones of judgement,
the thrones of the house of David.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 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. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.’
Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit.
Over the last two days we have paused to reflect upon the love and the generosity of God in our lives. Today we are being urged to reflect upon what we are going to do with the abundance of divine grace that is showered upon us by our loving and generous God.
Jesus did not come to earth for the benefit of a select few. Jesus was born into the human condition in order that he might establish a real and living covenant between God and humanity … for ever. Jesus brought his new model of love and service into this world in order that those who accept his teaching and choose to follow him might know the peace that only he can give. Jesus came to earth to inspire us into becoming his apostles in a world that is otherwise focused primarily on the material and self-serving.
Jesus compares his work with a vine. This would have made perfect sense to those who heard him speak. They would have understood his description of the vine growers needing to prune the unproductive branches in order that an abundance of good fruit might grow and flourish. Whilst the growing of vines may not be in our immediate experience, Jesus’ image is clear and easy for us to understand. Jesus calls us to be those branches of his vine which produce more and more fruit, that is more and more disciples and apostles.
Over the last two days we have considered God’s love and generosity, today we need to consider the action we are going to take. Today we are being asked to set aside our human understanding of ‘love’, and we are being asked to engage with the totality of God’s generosity, and then we are being asked to share all of that with others. Too often we pause at this moment in our Christian journey. We stop to consider the inconvenience of taking the Christian story into the lives of others. We become fearful of scorn and rejection. We become like those dead branches that need to be pruned in order that less hesitant ones might flourish according to God’s wishes.
In many aspects of our lives we witness the imposition of a ‘glass ceiling’. We see people putting false limits on the expectations they have for others. We see people putting false limits on the expectations they have for themselves. When we fail to share the love and generosity of God with others we are doing the same. We are treating our relationship with God as a private gift that is for us alone. It is not! We are called to become followers of Christ (disciples) in order that we might also be Christ’s messengers (apostles). We are called to foster the fruit of faithful apostleship. We are not called to watch others struggle and wither because we treat all that we have been given as a gift for us alone.
Let us pray that we might help others to know and to love God through our sharing of the love and generosity of Jesus Christ.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray to God, who alone gives to his people the power for good.
Grant that your Church, constant in faith and love, may be cleansed from all that hinders her mission that she may bring forth the good fruit of the Gospel. Give unity to all her branches in the strength of Christ, the true vine.
Purge with your compassionate might the corruption of the world. Where there is abuse of power, where there is selfish exploitation of the weak, where there is hostility between nations, bring healing and a new spirit so that all may live in harmony, rooted in love.
May we abide in Christ, and his words abide in us, so that we and all in our community may be united in him and trust in his strength alone. In our work and in our recreation may we use well the gifts we have been given.
We pray for the outcasts of the world, those who have been cut off from their families, those who have been rejected by society and lost hope of return. Restore them to the full dignity of their humanity, and let them grow into new life.
Receive the souls of the departed, that their love may be made perfect in your presence. Have pity on those whose lives on earth seemed withered and fruitless, that they may find fullness of life at last.
May our prayers be accepted in the name of Christ, the true vine.
Prayer for the week
O Lord, the first and the last,
the beginning and the end:
you who were with us at our birth,
be with us through our life;
you who are with us through our life,
be with us at our death;
and because your mercy will not leave us then,
grant that we die not,
but rise to the life everlasting.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Take up the song, and sing the praise of God,
who gave the power of choice to humankind,
that we might rule the earth through servanthood,
and so find joy in all that God designed.
Rae E. Whitney (b. 1927)