Daily Devotion 18 January 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021
‘I am the vine; you are the branches.
He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit;
for without me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5)

Each year the World Council of Churches invites a Christian group to provide a theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Before this pandemic had been heard of, they asked the Sisters of the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland to design The Week for 2021. Neither the Council nor the Sisters could have foreseen the world-wide impact of Covid 19, yet they produced something most timely. Their theme is based on the words of Jesus: ‘Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit.’ This will be our theme for the next eight days of this year’s Week of Prayer.

This key text is in three parts: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches … he who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit … apart from me you can do nothing’. The image of the vine and branches tells me that I am part of something much greater than myself. I am a member of a family, a community, a church. Happiness and fulfilment will not be found in possessions or even in achievement but in the warmth of human relationships.

The next phrase tells of the object of this union: ‘He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit.’ Bearing fruit is what the vine is all about. So it is with Christ’s followers, we may look religious and have all the answers; we may preach and pray with moving eloquence – but if we’re not bearing fruit in the way we live – that is, living in love – we’ve missed the point.

The third and most important phrase is: ‘for without me you can do nothing.’ These are thrilling days for us in Emmanuel – our building work has begun. It’s tempting to say that the future of our church and the success of its mission now depends on us, our energy and enthusiasm, and clever ideas. As we join in the Week of Prayer this week, let’s remind ourselves that the true source of our strength is our relationship with our living Lord. This is where we will find confidence in this age of anxiety and panic – ‘Only as you abide in me and I in you, will you bear fruit.’ (For more details of the Sisters’ work and programme visit: www.oikoumene.org/week-of-prayer).

Prayer:

Lord, we lay before you the complex network of relationships that go to make up our lives –
the bonds of love within our family – our links with friends and neighbours –
the relationships we have at work – and the many contacts we make throughout our daily lives.
We realise that our abiding in Christ must relate to all of these relationships.
We pray for one another and for the life of our church,
that we may show the meaning of love more clearly.
May we never be content to live just for ourselves, but to live for others,
to care for those who look to us for help,
and to be active witnesses of the one who strengthens us. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Howard John.
Images freely available online.

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