Collect and Readings for Sunday 2nd May 2021 Year B Genesis 22:1-18, Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4, Psalm 22:25-31, 1 John 4.7-end, Acts 8.26-end, John 15.1-8The Prayer for todayAlmighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us you put into us good desires, so by your continual help we may bring to good effect: through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This week our reading from Acts continues the Spirit-led proclaiming of the good news, once again following the same pattern given by the risen Jesus during his encounters with the disciples. Philip arrives at the right place at the right time, because he has been closely in touch with God's leading. He tunes in to the Ethiopian official's questions and seeking after truth, and explains who Jesus is and why he died, using the scriptures and interpreting them in the light of the Resurrection. It is all to do with working co-operatively with God, and allowing respect and love for one another to sensitise us to people's real needs, even if these are confused and unvoiced.
What happened to the Ethiopian as a result of this encounter? We only know that he went on his way rejoicing; probably he carried on the broadcasting of the good news, so that many others were also set free to live rejoicing lives.
The elderly John is still marvelling at the way God loves us, and is anxious to make it quite clear that double standards on our part will not do. Faced with the beauty of God's perfect love, it is no good claiming to love him if we are full of hate for another human being. Real love of God is bound to lead us on to love one another in the same tender, unselfish way that he loves us.
This is why the image of the vine and branches is such a vivid useful one; being joined on to the vine makes all the difference, and we cannot expect to produce spiritual fruit unless we are well attached, with the life sap flowing through us. Jesus places himself in the role of the vine and his Father as the gardener. Why does a gardener plant a vine and tend it? For the fruit! What a thought it is to imagine wine made from the fruit of our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, all possible because of the life of Jesus flowing through our living and growing. Wine of the kingdom of God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ is Risen. Let us tend and nurture our relationship with God so that we can be part of the true vine spreading the good news to everyone we meet.
God bless and stay safe and well
Rev'd Fiona Robinson