Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are before your God
Willingly we choose to surrender our lives
Willingly our knees will bow
With all our heart, soul, mind and strength
We gladly choose You now
Come, now is the time to worship
Show us Jesus
Take us to the wilderness where five loaves feed five thousand
Take us to the sick places, the possessed places, the hurting places
Where there is always enough time and love and grace to go round
Enough and always more much more
And take us to the hill
Where infinite love and forgiveness
Meets infinite sacrifice
Take us to where you are waiting in the streets, to be the friend the neighbour
To rage with you where injustice spirals
To be our neighbours servant, to be as Christ to them
To walk one step behind you
Knowing that when we need, when we are in the rock valley, you will hold our hands and lead us home
For you are our shepherd and Lord we trust in you alone.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Today’s Gospel reading follows on, in the Lectionary, directly after the reading from John 15: 1-8 that Simon reflected on last week. That, you may remember, was the passage where Jesus describes, to his disciples, himself as the Vine and his Father, God, as the Farmer: he says the disciples are the branches and when pruned and joined to the vine the branches will bear fruit in abundance - you can’t bear fruit, he says, without being joined to, living in, me.
Simple, says Simon. Whoever you are you can hear the message and be joined to Him.
And today’s passage that follows perhaps shows the disciples, and us, how to to achieve that simple goal and be part of the vine. As I remember saying in a previous reflection a couple of years ago, Mary Poppins would have us start at the very beginning, a very good place to start - but here it’s perhaps best to cut to the end of the reading:
This is my command: Love each other.
Simples and Amen - but I said we shouldn’t be too short!
The context of these passages is that Jesus is preparing to say goodbye, to leave. In chapter 13 Jesus has washed the disciples feet as they came to the table: to supper together for the last time. Judas has left to do his worst and earn his silver. Jesus tells his remaining disciples that he will soon leave them “Children I will not be with you much longer” and “I am going to prepare a place for you” He talks about God’s house having many rooms and “ so you can follow me - you know the way to the place I am going”
Simples but, perhaps not surprisingly, they don’t all get it
“I will lay down my life for you” says Peter. Will you really, says Jesus, before the cock crows you will disown me three times “
Jesus has already said in verse 34 of Chapter 13:
A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
It is, and remains, simple.
Obey my command.
Recently one of our congregation started basic training on their way to becoming a musician in the army. Some of us reflected on them receiving a gun, then a vision of them doing an assault course with a trumpet in hand!
Simon mentioned a ten foot wall and I said I’d done that! 20 odd years ago I was a Divisional General Manager with Barts and the London NHS Trust as it was then and our Chief Executive was a retired soldier - a Major General who had earlier in his career commanded a regiment of the Gurkha Brigade. He took us for a management development day to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where all British Army Officers, and the odd King from overseas, are trained.
This was a real privilege and if only to experience the huge area of grounds. We went on a 15 minute Land Rover drive and sat on a hill watching the resident Gurkha Demonstration Company capture an enemy command station (it was actually a big bush).
The Army practice the highest standards of modern management training and the point was to show us how to make decisions and command. The amusing reflection is that, remember, we are in the middle of nowhere, from somewhere the Gurkha’s produced a tray of tea and biscuits for our Chief Executive, with a bone China teapot and cup - with a chair and a sunshade. Amusing perhaps but he was and remains a great leader and, to them he was ‘General Ray’. If he had told them to do anything they would obey his command. It was at that time that I introduced the managerial conundrum of the shepherd, sheep and sheepdog and of who is in charge when one party, unlike the Gurkha’s, are allowed to say no. Is it the shepherd, the sheep dog or the sheep. But perhaps another time.
And, yes they have an assault course with a 10 foot wall and yes I got over it.
The reading from Mark’s Letter is, on the face of it very closely linked to the Gospel passage - it’s also about obeying God’s commands and that this is also simple - “and His commandments are not burdensome” but the inevitable check with Google suggests that the context of this is of the writer challenging a part of the early Church that was indulging in heresy so perhaps more complicated. But the message does remain the same and simple - show a love for God in doing what he commands us to and the primacy of loving God and each other.
But whatever was going on in the early Church, let’s return to Jesus who couldn’t be clearer. This short passage is full of the words ‘command’ and ‘love’.
Love each other as I have loved you - this to be a sacrificial love and Jesus adds “ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends“. Surely he is anticipating his own death on the Cross to disciples who have not yet fully understood this. He says to his disciples, and implicitly to us, that we can be his friends if we follow his command and join him - be in him – be one with Him and God and all believers as part of the Vine.
So back to the Vine - God is the Farmer, Jesus is the Vine and, it’s His invite but our decision, if we accept him as this we can be part of the vine for if we accept His gift and His command of sacrificial love to others, thinking of them not us, then we will live lives that conform to God’s commands - simple perhaps but equally perhaps the most profound thing that you could think of and a reflection that we have put 2000 years of complicating theology around the simple metaphysical message.
This is my command: Love each other.
Created with images by mikefoster - "runner obstacle run" • TimHill - "tree sun sunshine" • jeffjacobs1990 - "jesus christ god" • doungtepro - "praying kids cambodia" • Hucklebarry - "bible scripture book" • Pexels - "bible book pages" • JillWellington - "grapes vines grapevines" • jeffjacobs1990 - "jesus christ god" • Ande_Hazel - "tough mudder teamwork tough" • ashleyamos - "holding hands circle of friends supporting one" • webandi - "candle light candlelight" • Pexels - "blonde sitting wall"