Pause for Thought

Sunday 2nd May: Easter 5:  John 15 1-8

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard.  He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes to make it even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples.

Jesus’ listeners would have so understood his reference to a vine as these grew in such abundance all around them and they would have known about its cultivation.   Just as a vine needs continuous connection with its main root stem, so we too need to be in constant touch with God our Father if we are to live as he wants us to – in prayer, in worship.  Like the vine, we need nourishment – opportunities for God to speak to us, to encourage us, to help us.

Do you feel you are continually in touch with God? – can you feel his loving care in your life, leading you, guiding you, giving you strength?  He is always there for you and only needs you to accept this, give thanks, and ask for his help.

Sunday 9th May 2021: Easter 6: John 15  9-17

As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.  I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will remain—so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.  This is My command to you: Love one another.

In this wonderful and challenging passage, Jesus tells his disciples and us to ‘Love one another’ – which sounds so simple.  But do we actually really do this?  When we look at other people, talk to them, listen to them – do we really think of them and treat them as we would do ourselves?  Do we treat them with the dignity we expect? the same tolerance as we do for our own failings?  Do we go to whatever lengths it takes to help them – as we hope they will help us? 

When treating others as Jesus would have done – with love, patience and caring – we are doing it as if they were Jesus himself.  What a challenge! 

 

Sunday 16th May 2021:  Easter 7 Sunday after Ascension  John 17 6-19

 I have revealed your name to those you have given me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I have given them the words you gave me, and they have received them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I ask on their behalf. I do not ask on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me; for they are yours.  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine; and in them I have been glorified.  I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.  While I was with them, I protected and preserved them by your name, the name you gave me. Not one of them has been lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you; and I am saying these things while I am in the world, so that they may have my joy fulfilled within them.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them; for they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have also sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, so that they too may be sanctified by the truth.

In this great prayer of Jesus, he is entrusting his disciples, their followers, all people – us – to God’s everlasting love.  Because of God’s great gift to us, sending Jesus to die a cruel death on the cross for all the wrongs we have done, we are free to live as forgiven people.  We are loved, cherished, guided, and helped throughout our lives.  What a wonderful all-empowering gift, and what a difference this must make in our lives.

How can we thank God for his great gift to us?  Is there something you can do today in a practical way to acknowledge what God has done, and is doing in our lives?  Helping someone else perhaps? – or thanking them for being who they are or doing what they are doing? 

 

23rd May: Pentecost:  John 16 4b-15

I did not tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you.Now, however, I am going to Him who sent Me; yet none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ Instead, your hearts are filled with sorrow because I have told you these things. But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because they do not believe in Me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world has been condemned. I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you. Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is Mine and disclose it to you.

Jesus is trying to help his disciples face a future without him – but a future with ‘something ‘ he will send them.  They must have been so sad worried and frightened at the thought that Jesus was leaving them again, this time for good, but  leaving them with an unknown present.   I wonder if they could take in what he was telling them?  They certainly remembered his words later when they actually received the Holy Spirit.

God’s gift is for us too – given to us in love.  It gives us his strength, his love, his caring, his understanding.  It is here for us now and always – without it life is so much harder, so much more of a struggle.  But with it, we have what we need to face whatever happens in our lives.

 

30th May: Trinity Sunday:  John 3  1-17

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs You are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit.  ………..No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 

Nicodemus was understandably puzzled;  to be told that no-one can see God’s Kingdom unless he is ‘born again’ – must have been difficult to grasp.  Many years later, we too may be doubting about how this shall happen.  ‘When’ ‘where’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ are often questions we want to ask and to which we do not know the answers.  But Jesus is telling us to have faith;  believe in him, trust in God, who has only our best interests at heart.  We may not understand everything, particularly about the future, but we can trust what Jesus has told us through his disciples.

Do you struggle with your faith because there are questions you find difficult or impossible to answer?  We only need to accept what we do know and understand, and step forward in faith, knowing that that is all God wants us to do.  He will supply the answers in his own time.




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