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Related Bible reading(s): John 15.1-8

The week in focus

Connecting to the world right now

Three new resources, published each week - helping you connect the Bible passages with what's happening in the world right now.

In touch

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Intercessions

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In touch: Re-becoming one

Up-to-the-minute jumping-off points for sermons, linking the reading to the latest news and global issues

In our very being, we are already attached to God (John 15.5).

Context

  • Why does it so often take negative events, such as pandemics, to remind us of our unity in one human family? Covid does not care about our dividing lines of race, religion or nationality. Variants in one ‘distant’ nation invariably become our problem. Take your pick of stories.

 

Ideas for sermons or interactive talks

  • The fourteenth century German mystic, Meister Eckhart, wrote that ‘love’s nature is such that it appears only where two are; but itself turns out to be one…for love cannot exist divided’. This accords well with Jesus’ teaching that the branches, if they are to live, must be inseparable from the vine. And the ‘sap’ of the vine is love: ‘love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God’ (1 John 4.7b). ‘Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15.5b).
  • In Acts (17.28), Paul tells the Athenians that it is in God that we live and move and have our being. Mother Julian of Norwich wrote about the process of ‘oneing’ with God – the true meaning of atonement: at-one-ment with God. For her, and most other Christian mystics, it is not something that we do, but something we come to realise or recognise. God has already made us in the divine image (Genesis 1.26), so we are already a part of the Ground of All Being.

 

Questions for discussion

  • Oneness with God—and especially with one another—is never a ‘won and done’ experience for most of us. When have you experienced such oneness? What were the circumstances? Has it been a one-off experience or occasional?
  • What does it mean to draw your life, and each life-giving breath, from God, the True Vine? Have you ever considered that the Hebrew ruakh, the Greek pneuma and Latin, spiritus, all mean the same thing: ‘breath’? Genesis 2.7 clearly shows that God’s breath of life is what we draw into our lungs every few seconds.
  • Have you ever used a practice like centring prayer or contemplative prayer to simple sit with and wait upon God? If yes, what do you feel and experience. If no, what stops you?

Rev Dr Jack Lawson is a freelance writer and author of four novels: Doing Time, No Good Deed, Criminal Justice and The Woods (to be released soon by Wings ePress). For more information visit his website and his blog.

 

Check-in

Connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people

Just over a week ago, twelve football clubs from England, Italy and Spain announced that they would be forming a European Super League in which, as founder members, they would be permanent participants. Fans, players, managers, governing bodies, politicians and even royalty publicly opposed it, claiming that the plans valued earnings and status over fans and sporting competitiveness. James Corden passionately denounces it in this clip from The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Within three days, most teams had withdrawn and the plans were dropped, but it has sparked a debate across Europe as to whether football has lost sight of its roots and clubs have lost their connections to fans and communities. What are the consequences of losing connection to things that feed you? 

In this week’s passage, Jesus uses the image of branches on a vine to provoke thought about the importance of remaining rooted in and connected to him. Just as a branch needs to remain connected to the vine to be nourished and bear fruit – and a football team needs to remain connected to its fans to be nourished and thrive – followers of Jesus need to connect with him for their faith to be nourished and grow. What helps you feel connected to God? What practices or habits help you to remain connected to Jesus?

Darren Philip is a Youth and Children’s Development Worker with the Church of Scotland, based in Livingston United Parish Church.

 

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