2nd May 2021, All Age Worship Talk John 15:1-8 Lesley Higson

Jesus is the true vine - Together we are whole

John Chapter 15: 1 to 8

Talk for All Age Worship on the fifth Sunday of Easter, 2nd May 2021

Lesley Higson

Today’s reading from John’s gospel is one of the `I am’ passages in which Jesus tried to explain to his followers his nature, his purpose in life – and death, and his relationship to God.  He often couched these explanations in terms of everyday situations with which people were familiar: `the way’ from one place to another, the `bread of life’ to nourish us and here `the vine’, a common sight in the fields.  In fact, the vineyard is often used in the Bible to symbolise the people of Israel, the people of God.

Like me, I expect that some of you will have been pruning shrubs and trees in your gardens during the last couple of months.  Sometimes this is simply to stop them getting too big for the space but often it’s to make them more productive, of flowers or fruit.  This pruning – or `cutting back’ - isn’t a random process if it’s done properly; it requires planning and thought: deciding what to keep and what to get rid of along each branch.  If the ends of the branches get too far away from the central part, it becomes a strain for the plant to sustain them properly. 

This is the same for us.  We need to be closely attached to the core of our faith; we need to be rooted in Jesus and in the way that he instructed us to live.  He told us that we work better as a community, when we are closely tied in to our central beliefs and to each other.  The Fruits of the Spirit which Jesus told us we will enjoy if we stay close to him – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – are a template for living fruitful lives, lives of service not selfishness.

But these remain only words unless we act them out in everyday situations.  Over the last year, many people have had more time to appreciate the world and think about lifestyles, to take stock and decide what is important in life as we return to greater, post-pandemic normality.   But, as the recent worldwide vaccine roll-out – or lack of it in many areas! – has exemplified, normality for many people is not something they aspire to return to when it involves poverty, loss of land and livelihood because of climate change and global greed, lack of healthcare and education and so much more ….. Or should that be less (than some other people – like us - have)?!

 

 

We need to think about pruning – about cutting back – in our own lives so that the `enough’ that the world, God’s creation, has to offer is more fairly shared.  Just like plant pruning, we need to give serious thought to the process.  We need to decide what we really need and what we don’t and then take appropriate action.

As we, in this country at least, start to move out of the limitations that the last year has imposed on us, we are facing the crunch time.  `Live simply, so that others may simply live’ is often quoted and it’s relatively easy to do when one has little chance of trips to faraway places or for expensive meals etc.  Can we stick to that ideal once opportunities for a fancier lifestyle are available?

Just as a dog is `not just for Christmas’ – or lockdown, so our good intentions and abstentions should not be `just for Lent’ and forgotten at Easter.  If anything, the Easter message of redemption, new life (for all) and a new thought-out lifestyle is one that we should be wanting to live every day.

As a church, we have been thinking about how we can live more `ethically’ as we work through the Eco-church award scheme.  Can we learn to embed these lifestyle ideals in our daily lives, in our everyday mindset?  Liz suggested in yesterday’s weekly update things that we can do right now to help others who are in great and immediate need.

As we embark on the month of May, our eco-theme changes to food - as the growing season begins in earnest.  We can perhaps enact that by donating to the food bank to help local people in need.  We can think about our own food usage and also about how we can help food-growers around the world by paying fairly for their produce. 

Our gospel reading of Jesus’ explanation of himself as the vine – the central, living source of our nourishment and sustenance, for both body and soul – can give us plenty of food for thought today and always.