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Sunday Devotion: 2 May 2021, Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sunday Devotions

In Heavenly love abiding

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Written by clergy and lay people across our Diocesan community, ‘Sunday Devotions’ is a column of short reflections based on a Lectionary reading of the day, suitable for small group discussion or personal use.

Main Readings: Acts 8.26-40; Psalm 22.26-32; 1 John 4.7-21; John 15.1-8

Supplementary Readings: Psalm 116; John 8.31-36; Acts 13.13-16a, 26-43; Psalm 98; 1 John 4.1-8

“I am the vine you are the branches.” (John 15.5)

At age five I was taken to live with my maternal grandparents. An earliest memory was lying on the verandah surrounded by bunches of grapes that hung from vines attached to it. It was a little private world. Some years later, when the vines were removed, I remember feeling very sad.

In this Gospel passage Jesus emphasises the need for continued connection between Himself as the root of the vine, and those who draw strength from Him as its branches: “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” (v.4). Jesus uses the word “abide” or “abides” no fewer than eight times in today’s short passage (John 15.1-8). Later in the excerpt from his first letter, John picks up this theme again, using the same words a further six times: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4.16).

It seems that in this passage John also sees a need to remind the ‘branches’ of their responsibility to love one another. For example, problems emerge if we as branches begin to focus on ourselves, “my branch has more fruit than your branch”, instead of on the vine (Jesus) from which we all must draw our common strength.

Focusing on our perspective as branches while maintaining a strong connection to the vine has proved a challenge for Christians through the ages.

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