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5th Sunday of Easter : 28th April 2024

What follows is a worship service which, I pray, you can participate in at a time(s) that are convenient to you. This 'service' will take about forty five (45) minutes.

I pray that you will feel called to ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE in this service.

The text that is in regular typeface (that is what you are reading at the moment) is to be read quietly, while the text that is in
bold face (like you are reading right now) is meant to be read aloud.

Opening Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we commence our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A Call To Worship:

We meet in the name of God,

Creator of the universe,

source of true humanity,

mother and father of all. Amen.

An Assurance of Forgiveness:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

The Absolution
00:00 / 00:18

The Sentence For Today (let us say aloud):

They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn the saving deeds that he has done.

The Special Prayer For Today (let us pray aloud):

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our first reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

Acts 8:26-40
00:00 / 03:31

Our second reading for today:

(click the 'play' button below to listen)

1 John 4:7-21
00:00 / 03:08

Gradual Hymn:

Let us continue by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we raise out voices in praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

A reading from the holy gospel according to Saint John.

John 15:1-8
00:00 / 01:22

Listen to David speak to this gospel

Your Enthusiasm!
00:00 / 09:54

or, if you prefer, you can read the sermon, below:

Sermon for Easter 5, 28th Apr 2024

Take my lips O God and speak through them, take our minds O God and think through them, take our hearts O God and love through them this day. <Amen>

I am recording this message while sitting in Central Otago in Aotearoa\NZ and what a truly wonderful part of God’s creation this is to speak to you about vines! Surrounded, as I am, by some of the greatest wine producing country anywhere in the world. <PAUSE>

Anyway - enough of that enjoyable subject that strays your minds to warm reds and chilled whites. I’ve just had my flu jab and I am now pretty confident to tell you that I am immune to influenza this coming winter. <PAUSE>

Why the puzzled expressions? Can’t you see the connection between the vines and my flu jab? Okay - sigh - let me explain.

In Psalm 80:8-16 Israel is poignantly portrayed as a vine which has spread throughout the whole land, only to be torn down, devoured and burnt at the time of the Exile. The vineyard motif is again taken up in Isaiah 5:1-7, where a moral reason is given for this destruction.

The vine image (like the sheep and the shepherd, last week) was amazingly familiar to the people of Jesus’ time. In fact, a golden vine adorned one of the gates of the Temple. The symbol was so ingrained in the common psyche of the people that a vine was portrayed on the coins minted during the, ultimately disastrous, Bar Kokhba revolt against Rome in the years 132-136 A.D.

Today, we hear the seventh significant “I AM” saying of John’s Gospel, “I am the true vine”, Jesus was identifying Himself with the Messianic “son of man” of Psalm 80. Jesus is the true fulfilment of Israel’s mission, and those who are rooted in Him are His ambassadors, His apostles, His example, His life, in a fallen world.

The same God who once tended the rebellious vineyard of Israel is now identified as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The vine-dresser now tends to the branches of the true vine to make it bear more fruit.

John tells us we are cleansed by the words of Christ spoken to us, we abide in Him, He is the vine, we are the branches and then ... “we are to bear much fruit”.

We draw our spiritual life from the Lord Jesus Christ just as surely as the branch draws nourishment from the root.

We are nourished by His Word, and cultivate our relationship with Him through prayer (John 15:7).

Christ exhorts us to “abide” in the vine, yet ALWAYS REMEMBER that it is the Lord who first placed us there (John 15:16). It is He who first chose us, and not we Him, and He who put us into the situation where WE might BEAR FRUIT. The call from today’s gospel is crystal clear ... IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY, USING WHATEVER PERSONAL GIFTS WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN, IN WHATEVER MANNER IS APPROPRIATE TO “GO OUT”, “GO FORWARD” IN OUR CHRISTIAN LIVES GROWING IN OUR OWN FRUITFULNESS AND BEARING MORE FRUIT FOR CHRIST. <PAUSE>

Yes - this means me, this means each and every one of you. In whatever role you feel that Christ has enabled you - go into the world and bear more fruit for Him. <PAUSE>

I have never been sure what my God-given gift(s) is(are). Let’s just say that I am driven to talk to anyone, at any time, in any place about Christ. Some who hear these words will have gifts of music, others gifts of voice and song, others gifts of gardening, others gifts with technology, still others the gift of nurturing the young - the list could go on.

I cannot tell you how to use your gifts to bear more fruit for Christ but I can tell you what I know about you all and what I know works AND THIS IS WHERE INJECTIONS COME IN !!

You see, I now need an injection to inoculate me against your enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is highly infectious - it’s like laughter or yawning.

As I receive emails and messages from so many of you, one of the things I notice that you all have in common is that when I hear about you using your gifts to put more fruit on Christ’s vine, I see that you all do it with “enthusiasm” ... and I catch the bug and want to help … AND SO WILL OTHER PEOPLE WHEN THEY SEE AND HEAR YOU!

Mind you, if you all do keep using your gifts with this enthusiasm I’ll never have time to sleep. You’ll exhaust me. NOW - do you see why I need that second injection? <PAUSE>

All joking aside, SERIOUSLY, my prayer is that you all NEVER lose the desire to put more fruit on the vine for Christ and that you NEVER lose the ability to show the enthusiasm with which you do it … both to me and to others.

From Jesus comes our nourishment to bear more fruit and to God will be the glory.

I runga e te Ingoa o te Atua, te Matua, te Tama me te Wairua Tapu.
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit <AMINE>

Pause and Reflect

Just take a moment now to pause. Bow your head, close your eyes.
 

Allow these words of Holy Scripture and this interpretation of them today to speak to you.

An Affirmation of Our Faith

Let us affirm our faith by saying aloud, and together, "The Apostles Creed":

apostles_creed_pic02.jpg
Image by Allef Vinicius

... and now let us pray for the Church, the World, and Ourselves, giving thanks for God's goodness.

​Let us pray aloud, and together:

Everlasting God, give us the courage of Philip who took the time to share his faith with a curious stranger and remind us of Jesus command to us to “make disciples of all”.

In Jesus, name we pray. Amen.

(LONGER pause for silent, personal reflection)

In response to the call today “Lord, in Your mercy” Our response is, “hear our prayer!”

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Creator God, we pray for Your world and we long for the time when all the families of the nations will bow down before You and the poor will eat and be satisfied.  We pray for world leaders who bear the heavy responsibility of providing for their populations, give them wisdom to know what is right and the courage to make right decisions.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Father God, help us to use our influence to bring peace, joy and fun into people’s lives. We pray for the all the people who pass through or visit our communities.  May they enjoy themselves and enjoy each other. May their visit bring not only pleasure but, where possible, restoration and healing into their lives.


(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Father God, help us to reach out to strangers in our midst.  As we remember the way the early Church lived in one heart and mind and shared everything they had may we too be always mindful of the needs of others less fortunate and always welcome the newcomer , the stranger, the visitor, joyfully into our midst.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Loving God, we bring to You the sufferings of those we hold dear; the struggle of those trying to cope with difficult housing; the pains of the sick both at home, in hospital or care homes; the loneliness of the elderly and the frail. In Your great mercy bring them comfort, relief and reassurance that You are always with them in all their troubles.

We especially raise before You now all those who have asked for our prayers from around the world … those we know in New Zealand, in Singapore, in Argentina, in France, in Australia, in the US, in Canada, in Austria, in Ukraine, in China and any others we now name aloud, or in the silence of our hearts, and those who are known only by You.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Merciful God, Your son Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We remember before God those who have died and pray for all those who are going through the darkness of loss and bereavement.

Father, we thank You for the promise of eternal life and the hope of glory and commend to Your everlasting love and care those who have died.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your Mercy: Hear our prayer

In a moment of silence we pray for ourselves, our families, friends, for all whom we love and for our personal ministries. Make us worthy of the resurrection that Your Son has won for us.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

As we go out into the world to face another week help us as we seek to live out our lives according to Your son Jesus Christ’s example.  Free us from the sins of the world that spoil our life so that our lives may be a living testament to Your will, for Your world and, in doing so, help us to put more fruit on Christ’s vine.

(Short Silence) Lord, in Your mercy: hear our prayer

Forth in the peace of Christ we go; Christ to the world with joy we bring; Christ in our minds, Christ on our lips, Christ in our hearts, the world’s true King.

Merciful father: accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

lord's_prayer_pic01_edited.jpg

Remembering that we are confident to pray this day, and every day, because Jesus Christ continues to teach us:
 

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,

your will be done,
on earth as 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 for ever.   Amen.

Let us conclude our prayers by praying together and aloud:

 

God of mercy,
you have given us grace to pray with one heart and one voice,
and have promised to hear the prayers
of two or three who agree in your name,
fulfil now, we pray,
the prayers and longings of your people
as may be best for us and for your kingdom.
Grant us in this world to know your truth,
and in the world to come to see your glory. Amen.

The Blessing

May The Risen Lord Christ turn His face towards each and every one of you.

May He cause His light to shine upon you, and

may He grant you His peace, and

 

The blessing of Almighty God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

be with you and all of those whom you love,

on this day and forever more.

A Closing Hymn:

Let us conclude our worship today by watching, and please do feel free to sing or read aloud the lyrics, as we unite in another hymn our praise and thanksgiving.

When you are ready - click the "play" button on the video window, below:

The Dismissal

Go now, go out into the world

to love and serve The Lord.

 

Go in peace.

AMEN, we go in the name of Christ.

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