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Summary: When God stops you from doing something that you think is achieving, he is only to prepare you for something bigger, so take heart: it is not about you, it is about God, and what he wants; and fortunately he aligns our desires with his.

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Word Count: 1876,

Acts 8:26-40 Psalm 22:24-30 1 John 4:7-21 John 15:1-8

Summary: When God stops you from doing something that you think is achieving, he is only to prepare you for something bigger, so take heart: it is not about you, it is about God, and what he wants; and fortunately he aligns our desires with his.

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 6th May 2012: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Please join me in my prayer. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit let these words speak for you, to bless each and every one of us, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Our Gospel reading is taken from John’s Gospel, chapter 15, verses 26 to 38: “Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 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. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

Introduction:

In this modern world there is a strong emphasis placed upon the “literal interpretation”; everything has to be described as it is, yet so often Jesus did not speak literally, but figuratively.

He spoke in allegories and images, and painted words in people’s minds using the familiar everyday things that they understood, to try and explain the unexplainable. He so often would tell a story, and let them draw their own conclusion; which so often frustrated his disciples.

"I Am" sayings

This morning we take a look at one of the "I Am" sayings of Jesus, where he relates himself to a vine, saying “I am the true vine”, and so straight away we have to look beyond the literal to see what he is he is trying to say to us.

Vineyards.

Now a vineyard to most of us probably means little, but in Jesus day the people knew exactly what he was talking about. And I had to research this and I found that, like us vines are a very rugged crop, but they produce very delicate fruit which requires careful handling; just like us.

A young vine is not permitted to bear fruit for the first three years, and is drastically pruned to preserve its energy until it has developed and matured.

The healthy branches that do grow are quickly cut back to direct the growth to the roots, so that when a healthy crop does grow, it has solid foundations from which it can fully ripen. Failure to do so would therefore not strengthen the roots, which are needed to support a healthy crop.


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