Sunday, March 27, 2016

Seeing and Believing - an Easter Celebration on Cleeve Hil

Since January Faith Taylor has been working with us as part of the Congregational Federation's Growing Disciples Project.  Faith has been working with our young people preparing a video for Easter Sunday.

Happy Easter!

Welcome to our celebration of Easter!

So much of the Easter story happens in the dark.

It was dark when Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room at the end of the Last Supper.  It was dark in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It was dark when they arrested Jesus.  It was dark when the trial began.  It was dark when Peter denied Jesus.  It was dark through the night Jesus spent in the Caiaphas’s house.  It was dark when Jesus breathed his last on the cross.  It was dark as those women set off on the Sunday morning to anoint the body in the tomb.  

But the tomb was empty.  

Dawn was breaking.  The sun was rising. 

Jesus Christ is risen … he is risen indeed!

It was dark that evening as the two friends made their way to Emmaus.  It was dark when the stranger came in to sup with them.  It was dark as they made their way back to Jerusalem.  It was dark once again in the Upper Room as the disciples ate together.  It was dark on the Sea of Galilee as they fished through the night.  It was dark on the shore as they cooked on the fire.  

But now the darkness was different.  

The risen Jesus was there with them … in the dark times as much as in the light.

The sun rose as we arrived at the Quarry Car park on Cleeve Hill.  We made our way to the top of the hill overlooking Bishop's Cleeve and looking towards the Malverns.  It was a beautiful morning with the skylarks singing in all their glory.
See the glory of God’s creation
Hear the song of the skylark
Touch the moisture of the dew
Taste the freshness of the air
Smell the earthiness of the soil
And know how wonderful it is to be alive.

We want to tell you about the One who was from the beginning. We have seen Him with our own eyes, heard Him with our own ears, and touched Him with our own hands. This One is the manifestation of the life-giving Voice, and He showed us real life, eternal life. We have seen it all, and we can’t keep what we witnessed quiet—we have to share it with you. We are inviting you to experience eternal life through the One who was with the Father and came down to us.  What we saw and heard we pass on to you so that you, too, will be connected with us intimately and become family. Our family is united by our connection with the Father and His Son Jesus, the Anointed One; and we recall all this because retelling this story fulfills our joy.

They saw it all.  And that’s why all these accounts are recorded so that we too might believe that Jesus is the Anointed, the Liberating King, the Son of God, because believing grants us the life He came to share.

            He is exalted,
            the King is exalted on high;
            I will praise Him.
            He is exalted,
            for ever exalted
            and I will praise His name!

            He is the Lord;
            for ever his truth shall reign.
            Heaven and earth
            rejoice in His holy name.
            He is exalted,
            the King is exalted on high.
Twila Paris ©  985 Straightway MusicCCL 3540

We circled round to a little hollow just above the path way where we imagined ourselves to be in the Upper Room
To the Upper Room

It all began that first Resurrection day.  And he missed it all.  He had not seen Jesus appear in the centre of the room.  He had not heard Jesus say
Jesus: May each one of you be at peace
He had not witnessed the wounds in His hands and His side.  He had not been there to celebrate as it sank in that they were really seeing the Lord.  He had not heard with his own ears the voice of Jesus
Jesus:  I give you the gift of peace. In the same way the Father sent Me, I am now sending you.
He had not sensed the breath of Jesus when He had drawn close enough to each of them that they could feel His breath.  He breathed on them
Jesus: Welcome the Holy Spirit of the living God.  You now have the mantle of God’s forgiveness. As you go, you are able to share the life-giving power to forgive sins, or to withhold forgiveness.
He had not felt the breath.
But he listened to the accounts of each brother’s interaction with the Lord,
All  We have seen the Lord.
But he had not seen, he had not heard, he had not touched, he had not felt for himself and so he said,
Thomas: Until I see His hands, feel the wounds of the nails, and put my hand to His side, I won’t believe what you are saying.
But they had not been the first to see and hear the risen Jesus.  It was Mary Magdalene who saw and heard and went directly to the disciples.
Before the sun had risen on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene made a trip to the tomb where His body was laid to rest. In the darkness, she discovered the covering had been rolled away.  She darted out of the garden to find Simon Peter and the dearly loved disciple to deliver this startling news.
Mary Magdalene: They have taken the body of our Lord, and we cannot find Him!
Together, they all departed for the tomb to see for themselves. 

We moved into a long disused quarry where once Cleeve Hill's limestone had been taken out for some of the lovely Cotswold stone buildings.  Jerusalem is also built on limestone, a whiter limestone and a younger limestone, but limestone nonetheless.  It doesn't take much imagining to be at the empty tomb.
To the Empty Tomb
They began to run, and Peter could not keep up. The beloved disciple arrived first but did not go in. There was no corpse in the tomb, only the linens and cloths He was wrapped in.  When Simon Peter finally arrived, he went into the tomb and observed the same:  the cloth that covered His face appeared to have been folded carefully and placed, not with the linen cloths, but to the side.  After Peter pointed this out, the other disciple (who had arrived long before Peter) also entered the tomb; and based on what he saw, faith began to well up inside him!  Before this moment, none of them understood the Scriptures and why He must be raised from the dead.  Then they all went to their homes.
Mary, however, stood outside the tomb sobbing, crying, and kneeling at its entrance.  As she cried, two heavenly messengers appeared before her sitting where Jesus’ head and feet had been laid.
Heavenly Messengers: Dear woman, why are you weeping?
Mary Magdalene: They have taken away my Lord, and I cannot find Him.
After uttering these words, she turned around to see Jesus standing before her, but she did not recognize Him.
Jesus: Dear woman, why are you sobbing? Who is it you are looking for?
She still had no idea who it was before her. Thinking He was the gardener, she muttered and then she heard him speak her name ...
Mary Magdalene: Sir, if you are the one who carried Him away, then tell me where He is and I will retrieve Him.
Jesus: Mary!
Mary Magdalene (turning to Jesus and speaking in Hebrew): Rabboni, my Teacher!
Jesus: Mary, you cannot hold Me. I must rise above this world to be with My Father, who is also your Father; My God, who is also your God. Go tell this to all My brothers.
1          Thank you for saving me;
            what can I say?
            You are my everything,
            I will sing your praise.
            You shed your blood for me;
            what can I say?
            You took my sin and shame,
            a sinner called by name.
            Great is the Lord.
            Great is the Lord.
            For we know your truth has set us free;
            you've set your hope in me.

2          Mercy and grace are mine,
            forgiv'n is my sin;
            Jesus, my only hope,
            the Saviour of the world.
            'Great is the Lord,' we cry;
            God, let your kingdom come.
            Your word has let me see,
            thank you for saving me.
            Great is the Lord.
            Great is the Lord.
            For we know your truth has set us free;
            you've set your hope in me.
            Thank you for saving me; what can I say?

Martin J Smith © 1993 Curious? Music CCL 3540
Mary Magdalene obeyed and went directly to His disciples.

We returned to the hollow by the path and continud our reflections.
To the Upper Room
Mary Magdalene (announcing to the disciples): I have seen the Lord, and this is what I heard him say to me …
On that same evening (Resurrection Sunday), the followers gathered together behind locked doors in fear that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were still searching for them. Out of nowhere, Jesus appeared in the centre of the room.  And all who were there were certain
All:  We have seen the Lord!
But he had not seen, he had not heard, he had not touched, he had not felt for himself and so Thomas said,
Thomas: Until I see His hands, feel the wounds of the nails, and put my hand to His side, I won’t believe what you are saying.
Eight days later, they gathered again behind locked doors; and Jesus reappeared. This time Thomas was with them and heard for himself …
Jesus: May each one of you be at peace.
Jesus drew close to Thomas.
Jesus: Reach out and touch Me. See the punctures in My hands; reach out your hand, and put it to My side; leave behind your faithlessness, and believe.
Thomas (filled with emotion): You are the one True God and Lord of my life.
Jesus: Thomas, you have faith because you have seen Me. Blessed are all those who never see Me and yet they still believe.
Jesus performed many other wondrous signs that are not written in this book. These accounts are recorded so that we, too, might believe that Jesus is the Anointed, the Liberating King, the Son of God, because believing grants us the life He came to share.
We want to tell everyone about the One who was from the beginning. These people saw Him with their own eyes, heard Him with their own ears, and touched Him with their own hands. This One is the manifestation of the life-giving Voice, and He showed them real life, eternal life.
And they couldn’t keep what they witnessed quiet—they had to share it with us.  They have invited us to experience eternal life through the One who was with the Father and came down to us.  What they saw and heard they passed on to us so that we too, are connected with them intimately and are family. Our family is united by our connection with the Father and His Son Jesus, the Anointed One; and we recall all this because retelling this story fulfills our joy.  And we too can say

Christ is risen … He is risen indeed!

Christ is risen … He is risen indeed!

Christ is risen … He is risen indeed!

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son;
endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won.
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave clothes where thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son:
Endless is the victory, thou o'er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom.
Let his church with gladness,
hymns of triumph sing;
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt thee, glorious prince of life!
Life is nought without thee; aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors,
through thy deathless love:
Bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.

Edmund L Budry (1854-1932), translated by Richard B Hoyle (1875-1939) CCL 3540

Christ is risen – He is risen indeed!

Christ is risen – He is risen indeed!

Christ is risen – He is risen indeed!

Thine be the glory
And in John 21:12 Jesus said one thing more …
Jesus: Come and join me for breakfast
Smell the cooking, taste the delights we’ll share and the celebration goes on

Our moirnig celebration over we returned to Highbury for a cooked breakfast!  One thiing emerges from this reading of 1 John 1:1-5 and John 20.  It is the way John emphasises the five senses.  The Risen Jesus is seen and heard, his wounded hands are touched, and in John 21 people smell the charcoal fire he has made and taste the fish he has cooked.  Our resurrection faith is grounded in the witness of those who saw, heard, touched, smelled and tasted the risen Christ, the fire he made and the meal he cooked.  Blessed were those who saw and believed: how much more blessed are we who have not seen and yet believe!  And the faith we come to is the faith that transforms us with the neness of resurrection life.

Taken from John 20 and 1 John 1 in the Voice Bible

Saturday, March 26, 2016

At the foot of the cross - a Good Friday Merditation

Good Friday
At the Foot of the Cross

Karl Jenkins The Armed Man – Benedictus track 12

As they were walking, they found a man called Simon of Cyrene and forced him to carry the cross.33 Eventually they came to a place called Golgotha, which means “Place of the Skull.” 34 There they gave Him a drink—wine mixed with bitter herbs. He tasted it but refused to drink it.
35 And so they had Him crucified.

As Jesus was being crucified, the soldiers tore His outer garments into four pieces, one for each of them. They wanted to do the same with His tunic, but it was seamless—one piece of fabric woven from the top down. 24 So they said,

Soldier (to other soldiers): Don’t tear it. Let’s cast lots, and the winner will take the whole thing.

This happened in keeping with the Hebrew Scriptures, which said, “They divided My outer garments and cast lots for My clothes.”[a] These soldiers did exactly what was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures.

 Jesus’ mother was standing next to His cross along with her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.26 

Jesus looked to see His mother and the disciple He loved standing nearby.

Jesus (to Mary, His mother): Dear woman, this is your son (motioning to the beloved disciple)27 (to John,His disciple) This is now your mother.

From that moment, the disciple treated her like his own mother and welcomed her into his house. 28 Jesus knew now that His work had been accomplished, and the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled.

 37 They placed a sign over His head: “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.”38 And then they crucified two thieves next to Him, one at His right hand and one at His left hand.  [28 And the Hebrew Scripture was completed that said, “He was considered just another criminal.”][a]

Jesus: 34 [Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.][c]

39 Passersby shouted curses and blasphemies at Jesus. They wagged their heads at Him and hissed

Passersby: 40 You’re going to destroy the temple and then rebuild it in three days? Why don’t You start with saving Yourself? Come down from the cross if You can, if You’re God’s Son.

Chief Priests, Scribes, and Elders (mocking Him): 41-42 He saved others, but He can’t save Himself. If He’s really the King of Israel, then let Him climb down from the cross—then we’ll believe Him. 43 He claimed communion with God—well, let God save Him, if He’s God’s beloved Son.

44 Even the thieves hanging to His right and left poured insults upon Him

39 One of the criminals joined in the cruel talk.

Cynical Criminal: You’re supposed to be the Anointed One, right? Well—do it! Rescue Yourself and us!

40 But the other criminal told him to be quiet.

Believing Criminal: Don’t you have any fear of God at all? You’re getting the same death sentence He is!41 We’re getting what we deserve since we’ve committed crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong at all! 42 (turning to Jesus) Jesus, when You come into Your kingdom, please remember me.

Jesus: 43 I promise you that this very day you will be with Me in paradise.

And then, starting at noon, the entire land became dark. It was dark for three hours. 46 In the middle of the dark afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice.

Jesus: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani—My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?[c]

Bystanders: 47 He’s calling on Elijah.

Jesus: I am thirsty.

48 One bystander grabbed a sponge, steeped it in vinegar, stuck it on a reed, and gave Jesus the vinegar to drink.

Others: 49 We’ll see—we’ll see if Elijah is going to come and rescue Him.

When Jesus drank, He spoke:

Jesus: It is finished!

50 And then Jesus cried out once more, loudly,

Jesus (shouting out loudly): 46 Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands![e]

In that moment, His head fell; he breathed his last and He gave up the spirit.

Hymn 131 When I survey the wondrous cross

 31 The Jews asked Pilate to have their legs broken so the bodies would not remain on the crosses on the Sabbath. It was the day of preparation for the Passover, and that year the Passover fell on the Sabbath. 32 The soldiers came and broke the legs of both the men crucified next to Jesus. 33 When they came up to Jesus’ cross, they could see that He was dead; so they did not break His legs. 34 Instead, one soldier took his spear and pierced His abdomen, which brought a gush of blood and water.

35 This testimony is true. In fact, it is an eyewitness account; and he has reported what he saw so that you also may believe. 36 It happened this way to fulfill the Hebrew Scriptures that “not one of His bones shall be broken”;[b] 37 and the Hebrew Scriptures also say, “They will look upon Him whom they pierced.”[c]

At that instant, the temple curtain was torn in half, from top to bottom. The earth shook; rocks split in two; 52 tombs burst open, and bodies of many sleeping holy women and men were raised up. 53 After Jesus’ resurrection, they came out of their tombs, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and showed themselves to people.

54 When the Centurion and soldiers who had been charged with guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw the rocks splitting and the tombs opening, they were, of course, terrified.

Soldiers: He really was God’s Son.

55 A number of women, who had been devoted to Jesus and followed Him from Galilee, were present, too, watching from a distance. 56 Mary Magdalene was there, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57 At evening time, a rich man from Arimathea arrived. His name was Joseph, and he had become a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked to be given Jesus’ body; Pilate assented and ordered his servants to turn Jesus’ body over to Joseph. 59 So Joseph took the body, wrapped Jesus in a clean sheath of white linen,60 and laid Jesus in his own new tomb, which he had carved from a rock. Then he rolled a great stone in front of the tomb’s opening, and he went away. 61 Mary Magdalene was there, and so was the other Mary. They sat across from the tomb, watching, remembering.

Agnus Dei – Karl Jenkins – track 10

Quotations are from the Voice Bible

Friday, March 25, 2016

Servant Leadership - a Maundy Thursday Communion Service

Maundy Thursday Communion

Our theme is prompted by conversation with Judi Marsh who showed me an article by Tim Hastie-Smith, Scripture Union National Director

Servant-hearted leadership

What does it mean to be truly servant hearted? SU’s National Director, Tim Hastie-Smith, reflects on this...

A few years ago I found myself celebrating a Maundy Thursday communion service in a cold, damp Gloucestershire church. As the passage from John 13 was read out it was as if I was hit by an express train. Those familiar words ran through me, over me, and overwhelmed me. As the foot-washing Christ declares ‘a new commandment I give to you. Love one another as I have loved you’, I found myself shocked and in awe of God’s amazing humility, kindness and love. Of course I knew that ‘Maundy’ is a corruption of the Latin word ‘mandatum’ which means commandment, and that this holy evening when we recall the Last Supper and Jesus’ arrest also reminds us of his great commandment. Furthermore, I was well aware that as he washed his disciples’ feet Jesus was showing them in graphic terms that just as he acted as their servant at the meal so he would serve the true needs of all mankind on the cross – a clear visual aid for the confused disciples to recall at a later date.

But what struck me overwhelmingly for the fi rst time were the following realisations.

First: When Jesus commands us to love one another as he loves us, he is calling us to a level of servant love that is unprecedented and utterly open-ended. If foot washing and his death on the cross are taken as ‘models’ of his love, we are called to a servant love that knows no limits. It is extreme love that counts service a joy, and a freedom. By demonstrating what love looks like he is showing us the very heart of the Godhead, a Trinity within which love is continually fl owing.

Second: ‘By this all will know that you are my disciples’, is quite explicit. This quality of unconditional total love will attract and challenge others. This love will tell others who we serve, and draw them to the one who loves us as a servant. Just as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables is overwhelmed by grace (The Bishop of Digne’s complete love for him) and has his life transformed, so we are invited to live this transformational love. There is a famous letter by Julian the Apostate, who, as Emperor of Rome after Constantine, attempted to restore paganism as the empire’s religion. In it he explains to the Roman Governor in Alexandria that unless the pagans outdid the Christians in acts of love and care for the poor of the city, paganism didn’t stand a chance! The Christians were known for their love to all!

Third: Jesus redefines the meaning of greatness, power, leadership and, indeed, the very nature of God as he suffers on the cross. As the incarnation shows us, God doesn’t pretend to be a man. He fully becomes a human being. And on the cross he doesn’t pretend to suffer. He endures and takes upon himself an eternity of suffering. We can all too easily allow Good Friday to appear to be Jesus suffering for the sins of the world for a mere few hours, confident of a throne, a crown and vindication.

This is to misunderstand the depth of the ETERNAL suffering God took to himself on the cross. Whilst God is, of course, outside of time, is it too much to say that if Jesus endured eternal suffering, he suffers still? We worship a suffering servant God. We serve the One who serves us. God has utterly redefined what it means to be God. All human constructs of power and leadership are grotesque corruptions of true power and leadership.

Leadership is service, which is why at the heart of SU is the invitation to come and serve, that we might become like God. What an invitation! Back to the Cotswolds – having moved to a different village in January, I was asked to set up a youth club. I declined to do so, but offered instead to run an out of school club for 6- to 11-yearolds which older young people could help to run. To give the young people an opportunity to serve was the most valuable thing we could do. A few weeks on we have a flourishing kids club with a number of young people (and now parents) helping on a regular basis. Some are Christians. Most are not. But in inviting them to join and serve, they have been invited to share in the glory of God. As I observed to one lad who has been to Tajikistan three times to help build the SU camp site there and who runs the football: ‘You are building the kingdom through service. One day you will meet the King. Service teaches us about God’s love.’

We are going to share in words first from John 13-16, words Jesus shared at the Last Supper.  Then we are going to draw on words form Luke 22 and share in the cup and in the bread.

We will finish back in John 17 with prayer prompted by the prayer Jesus prayed that night.  I am using the translation in the Voice Bible.

To draw us into our communion service, a moment of quiet prayer and a hymn


MTS 7 From heaven you came – the servant king

Before the Passover festival began,
Jesus was keenly aware that His hour had come to depart from this world
and to return to the Father.

From beginning to end, Jesus’ days were marked by His love for His people 

Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God, 
stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments.

He then wrapped Himself in a towel, poured water in a basin,
and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.

Simon Peter (as Jesus approaches): Lord, are You going to wash my feet?

Jesus: Peter, you don’t realize what I am doing, but you will understand later.

Peter: You will not wash my feet, now or ever!

Jesus: If I don’t wash you, you will have nothing to do with Me.

Peter: Then wash me but don’t stop with my feet. Cleanse my hands and head as well.

Jesus: 10 Listen, anyone who has bathed is clean all over except for the feet.

12 After washing their feet and picking up His garments, He reclined at the table again.

Jesus: Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and truly, that is who I am. 14 
So if your Lord and Teacher washes your feet,
then you should wash one another’s feet.15 

I am your example; keep doing what I do. 16

 I tell you the truth: a servant is not greater than the master.
Those who are sent are not greater than the one who sends them.[a] 17 
If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness. 

Jesus: Now the Son of Man will be glorified as God is glorified in Him.32 
If God’s glory is in Him, His glory is also in God.
The moment of this astounding glory is imminent. 33 
My children, My time here is brief.
You will be searching for Me;
and as I told the Jews, “You cannot go where I am going.” 34 
So I give you a new command:
Love each other deeply and fully.
Remember the ways that I have loved you,
and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. 35 
Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.

HTC Song 26 A new commandment

Simon Peter: 36 Lord, where are You going?

Jesus: Peter, you cannot come with Me now, but later you will join Me.

Peter: 37 Why can’t I go now? I’ll give my life for You!

Jesus: 38 Will you really give your life for Me? I tell you the truth: you will deny Me three times before the cock crows.

Jesus: Don’t get lost in despair;
believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. 
My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you.
If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that.
I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. 
I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home,
where we will be together. 
You know where I am going and how to get there.

Thomas: Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?

Jesus: I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me. 
If you know Me, you know the Father.
Rest assured now; you know Him and have seen Him.

Philip: Lord, all I am asking is that You show us the Father.

Jesus (to Philip): I have lived with you all this time, and you still don’t know who I am?
If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.
How can you keep asking to see the Father? 10 
Don’t you believe Me when I say I abide in the Father and the Father dwells in Me? 
If you have trouble believing based on My words,
believe because of the things I have done. 12 

I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done,
but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father. 13 
Whatever you ask for in My name,
I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son. 14 

Let Me say it again: if you ask for anything in My name, I will do it. 15 

If you love Me, obey the commandments I have given you. 16 
I will ask the Father to send you another Comforter, another Helper, the Spirit of truth, 
who will remain constantly with you. 17 
The world does not recognize the Spirit of truth,
because it does not know the Spirit and is unable to receive Him.
But you do know the Spirit because He lives with you, and He will dwell in you. 18
 I will never abandon you like orphans; I will return to be with you. 19 
In a little while, the world will not see Me;
but I will not vanish completely from your sight.
Because I live, you will also live.20 

At that time, you will know that I am in the Father,
you are in Me,
and I am in you. 21 
The one who loves Me will do the things I have commanded.

My Father loves everyone who loves Me;
and I will love you and reveal My heart, will, and nature to you.
25 I have spoken these words while I am here with you. 26 
The Father is sending a great Comforter, a great Helper, the Holy Spirit,
in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you. 27 
My peace is the legacy I leave to you.
I don’t give gifts like those of this world.
Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful. 

 I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. 
My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit.
He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them
so that they will bear more fruit; 
already you are clean because you have heard My voice.4
Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.
A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine,
and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.

I am the vine, and you are the branches.
If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit.
Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. 
If anyone does not abide in Me,
he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up
and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn. 
If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you,
anything you ask will come to pass for you. 
Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father.

Jesus: I have loved you as the Father has loved Me.
Abide in My love. 10 
Follow My example in obeying the Father’s commandments and receiving His love.
If you obey My commandments, you will stay in My love. 11 
I want you to know the delight I experience, to find ultimate satisfaction,
which is why I am telling you all of this.

12 My commandment to you is this:
love others as I have loved you. 13 
There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends. 14 
You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. 15 
I don’t call you servants any longer;
servants don’t know what the master is doing,
but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me.

I call you friends. 16 
You did not choose Me.
I chose you,
and I orchestrated all of this so that you would be sent out
and bear great and perpetual fruit.
As you do this, anything you ask the Father in My name will be done. 17 
This is My command to you: love one another.
33 I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace.
In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble,
but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.

Hymn 399 Come, risen Lord, as guest among your own

Jesus: 15 It has been My deep desire to eat this Passover meal with you
before My suffering begins. 16 
Know this: I will not eat another Passover meal
until its meaning is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

17 He took a cup of wine and gave thanks for it.

Jesus: Take this; share it among yourselves. 18 
Know this:
I will not drink another sip of wine until the kingdom of God has arrived in fullness.

19 Then He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and shared it with them.

Jesus: This is My body, My body given for you. Do this to remember Me.

20 And similarly, after the meal had been eaten, He took the cup.

Jesus: This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant, made in My blood. 

24 Soon they found themselves arguing
Disciples: Which one of us is the most faithful, the most important?

Jesus (interrupting): 25 The authority figures of the outsiders play this game,
flexing their muscles in competition for power over one another,
masking their quest for domination behind words like “benefactor” or “public servant.” 26 
But you must not indulge in this charade.
Instead, among you,
the greatest must become like the youngest
and the leader must become a true servant. 27 
Who is greater right here as we eat this meal—
those of us who sit at the table,
or those who serve us?
Doesn’t everyone normally assume those who are served are greater than those who serve?
But consider My role among you.
I have been with you as a servant.

You have stood beside Me faithfully through My trials. 29 
I give you a kingdom, just as the Father has given Me a kingdom. 30 
You will eat and drink at My table in My kingdom

Hymn 469 All for Jesus

It is the prayer of Jesus that we be one even as Jesus and the Father are one.
May we not be taken out of this world
but in all things may we be protected from the evil one.
May we be immersed in the truth that is of Jesus
Just as he was sent into the world by the Father,
So he sends us into the world.

It is the prayer of Jesus that we all be one
As the Father is in Jesus and as Jesus is in the Father;
May we be in in Christ and in the Father
For by this unity the world will believe that the Father sent Jesus.

The glory that is the Father’s, passed on to the Son is passed on to us
May that glory unite us and make us one as God is one
that all will know that You sent Me, and You love them in the same way You love Me.

So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light