Service of the Word for Sunday, 2 May 2021

This Service will be by Zoom at 10.00 am. Click this link to join the Service:
Meeting ID : 872 3163 6860
Passcode : 679426

Preacher: Revd George Mwaura

Led by Revd George Mwaura

Gathering music

Introit: Étude in A minor by Louise Farrenc

Call to Worship

Pause for a moment, my dear friends in Christ, from your busyness.
Leave your stresses behind for moment.
Come and reconnect with God.
Remain in him and grow. Grow closer, grow deeper. Grow and be fruitful.
Come and glorify God!


Opening responses

We come together as followers of Christ,
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
Lord, help us to tell your story.

We follow in the steps of men and women
who walked the path of pilgrims.
Lord, help us to find your way.

We are inspired by people who
faced death and persecution.
Lord, help us to carry your cross.

We are encouraged by God’s people
who lived on Earth as citizens of Heaven.
Lord, lift our hearts and minds,
so that we hunger for your Kingdom.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Hymn: God is Love: let heaven adore him

God is Love: let heaven adore him;
God is Love: let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,
and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation,
he who spread the heavens above,
he who breathes through all creation,
he is Love, eternal Love.

God is Love: and he enfoldeth
all the world in one embrace;
with unfailing grasp he holdeth
every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking
under sorrow’s iron rod,
then they find that selfsame aching
deep within the heart of God.

God is Love: and though with blidness
sin afflicts the souls of all,
God’s eternal loving-kindness
holds and guides jus when we fall.
Sin and and death and hell shall never
o’er us final triumph gain;
God is Love, so Love for ever
o’er the universe must reign.

Timothy Rees (1874–1939)

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Confession

Creator God, in you we are all we need to be;
through you we grow into all that we long to be;
with you we bear fruits that can be used and shared and multiplied;
because of you our lives are rich and blessed and fruitful.
So we praise you in song and silence, today and every day.
But we also come to you aware of our failings
and conscious that we have tried to live in our own strength.
Forgive us and reconnect us to your vine.

When have resisted the challenge of change and not trusted your truth,
forgive us and reconnect us to your vine.

When have rooted ourselves in our wills and not in your word,
forgive us and reconnect us to your vine.

When we have looked for quick fixes and not kingdom-shaped growth,
forgive us and reconnect us to your vine.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.


[A moment of silence for personal confessions]


Prayer of the Week

Eternal God, we come as one and we come together
to draw from the source of your life-giving love.
To reconnect with one another and with you.
To listen to your word.
To meet you in prayer and praise
and to learn and grow as your faithful disciples, in Jesus’ name


Ministry of the Word

Psalm 22: 25–31

Read by Don Head

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfil my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him –
may your hearts live for ever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him –
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Love is his word

Love is his word, love is his way,
feasting with men, fasting alone, and wealth.
living and dying, rising again,
love, only love, is his way.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Love is his way, love is his mark,
sharing his last Passover feast,
Christ at his table, host to the Twelve,
love, only love, is his mark.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Love is his mark, love is his sign,
bread for our strength, wine for our joy,
‘This is my body, this is my blood,’
love, only love, is his sign.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Love is his sign, love is his news,
‘Do this,’ he said, ‘lest you forget
all my deep sorrow, all my dear blood,’
love, only love, is his news.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Love is his news, love is his name,
we are his own, chosen and called,
family, brethren, cousins and kin.
Love, only love, is his name.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Love is his name, love is his law.
Hear his command, all who are his:
‘Love one another, I have loved you.’
Love, only love, is his name.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Love is his law, love is his word:
love of the Lord, Father and Word,
love of the Spirit, God ever one,
love, only love, is his word.

Richer than gold is the love of my Lord;
better than splendour

Luke Connaughton (1919–1979)

John 15: 1–8

Read by Jill or Adrian Boynton

The vine and the branches

1 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd George Mwaura

Tangled up in the vines…

This passage from John’s gospel is one that has created great comfort for many people,
and at the same time, profound pain and suffering for others.
So, let us begin by putting some context to it and, as we do so, it might be helpful to remember
that stories about a vine and vineyard have been told in Israel since ancient times.
So, really, Jesus was not covering any new territory.
The Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel used the vines and vineyards illustrations all the time to drive their message home.
It is important to remember that these prophets arose and spoke during times of great threat to the country.
They spent their time warning the people what was going to happen to them if they did not change their ways.
The prophets had an ability of presenting issues in ways that people understood,
and since most folks back then were familiar with vineyards, they got the message quickly.

In Chapter 5 of the Book of Isaiah, for example, the prophet told a story about someone who planted a beautiful vineyard on a fertile hill.
He did everything needed to create an ideal setting for the vines. But the vineyard failed.
The owner asked, ‘When I expected it to yield domestic grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?’
He then tore down the protective wall and hedge around it and let the vineyard become overgrown with briars.
He even commanded the clouds to stop raining on it.
That last detail is important because it tells us that the owner being described was God, and the vineyard of wild grapes was the people of Israel.
Isaiah used familiar language to make his point in his attempt to call the nation back from the destruction that was imminent.

Years later, Ezekiel tells the nation:
Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard transplanted by the river,
fruitful and full of branches from abundant water (Ezekiel 19: 12).
Again, the mother in reference here was the land of Judah, then under threat by Babylon.
Because of the stiff-necked behaviour of the Judeans, it was plucked up in fury and cast to the ground.
The east wind dried it up and its fruits were cut off.
Ezekiel painted a familiar yet vivid picture that everyone understood.
Unfortunately, they did not heed his warning.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus told another vineyard parable where the vineyard owner’s son was killed
by those who were supposed to be taking care of the vineyard.
So now, as Jesus talked about the vine in our passage,
the disciples would have understood him, as they were familiar with narratives about vines and vineyards.

Jesus told this story while he and the disciples were gathered after celebrating the Passover meal
and only a few minutes after Judas had bolted to go and betray him.
If ever there was an opportunity to talk about wild grapes, this was it!
In the minutes that followed, Jesus was either going to say something profoundly kind and loving,
or something so harsh that it would end up dividing and destroying families and nations for generations to come.
So, what did Jesus say? He said, ‘I am the true vine!’
I wonder how the disciples reacted upon hearing this.

For generations, the vine had represented the true way, the true vision for what the people of Israel were meant to be.
The vine had been God’s way.
Jesus then began talking about pruning the vineyard, and this is where the problems began.
Sounding very much like the doomsday prophets, Jesus said, ‘He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit,’
and then he added this rather ominous statement:
‘Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers;
such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burnt.’

Those few sentences have created voices that scream for active pruning of those who do not seem to bear fruit;
those who appear to be producing wild grapes!
This passage is used as the commandment to separate ourselves
from those who do not produce the fruit that is seen as desirable in our churches.
While laws of the land see to it that such people cannot literally be cast into the fire
(well, at least nowadays), it has still been possible to cast people out in other ways.
Many folk have been excommunicated, condemned, shunned, and treated as though they were pariahs.
Some people have been labelled as sinful, or unclean and driven out of churches.
I wonder, do you think it is necessary that we identify those people
who are the wild grapes in our churches and cut them off, so they do not corrupt the rest of us?
Is that what Jesus is saying to us?

But Jesus also repeatedly used the word abide as he told this story.
Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away, and those who abide in me and me in them bear much fruit.
A quick Google search tell us that there are two primary definitions for the word ‘abide’,
one of which is to withstand, endure, or put up with.
Now, with this definition in mind, do you think then that Jesus is saying to us
that while it may be difficult sometimes to take the harsh step of cutting some people out of the church,
if we withstand the pain that this may cause, we are doing his will by protecting the church from possible corruption?
Is that the message in this parable?

I want to be as clear as I can possibly be because I do not want anyone to misunderstand me or to quote me out of context.
While it is true that Jesus does say, more than once, that the vines that do not produce fruit will be removed,
it is important to note that he never suggests that it is our responsibility to do the pruning.
Jesus never suggest that it is our role to judge the value of the vines. Not once!
Jesus is saying that while there may be some pruning of wild grapes to be done at some point,
we are to leave that to the owner of the vineyard: the vine grower, the only one who can measure the true value of any vine.

The other definition of the word ‘abide’ is to remain, to continue in relationship with – and in this passage, it means more than to put up with.
It means believing in something strongly enough to continue living with it.
The story of the vineyard and vine is a story of everyone being connected to Christ and remaining together as the family of God.
It is when the parts of the vine are all connected that goods fruit are produced.
All the different parts of the vineyard: the soil, the roots, the vines, the leaves, …
as different as they are to look at, have their value in producing good fruit.
If there are unfruitful branches, it is not our primary focus.
Rather than trying to find those vines that need to be cut off,
our only focus as his church should be to work together to produce the fruit the vineyard owner planted us here to produce.


Musical response: As the Father has loved me

Affirmation of Faith

Let us declare our faith.

We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.



Led by Katherine Wheldon

God, Father of all, we thank you for another day. Thank you that we have shelter, warmth and food.
Thank you for providing us with a beautiful, fascinating world with never-ending treasures to discover and marvel at.

We ask your mercy and comfort for all those around the world in any kind of need,
be it dealing with Covid-19, especially India and Brazil among others,
earthquakes, volcanoes and accidents such as at the Jewish celebration in northern Israel, where forty-five people died and many were injured.
So many are in need of your help and ours.
Help us to share what we have and do whatever we can for those with less.

Here in Milton Keynes we see signs of your abundance all around us; nature in all its glory reminds us of your power.
If a wildflower can push through tarmac how much more powerful are you?
Help us to care for your world not only the natural world but especially in choosing what we buy and not be wasteful.
Help us to question – do we need what we put in our baskets?
Help to us wonder about those who make what we buy.
Help us to find other ways of supporting those used as slave labour because they have no choice if they want to eat.

We ask you for so much.

Thank you that we have the freedom to cast votes and in the local elections this week
help us to care enough to choose the person with the best qualities for the job – integrity, an ability to listen and able to stand firm for what is right.

Thank you for continuing to be there for all your children.
We know that you will continue to care for us all and especially our Ministers and all those who work in various capacities to keep our church open.

We ask especially for your presence with Joy, Eric and Joan and all those suffering ill-health,
grief or mental torment whether they be known to us or not.

We pray too for Jane and Andrew Betts and everyone affected by Advantage Africa,
which has recently heard that a promised grant has been withdrawn.
Help all governments to love their neighbours as themselves.

We ask in the name of your Son Jesus Christ.

Finally, thank you for being with us, we are truly blessed to know that you will never leave us.


The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.


The Peace

The Risen Christ said to his disciples: peace be with you.

And I too say to you, my sisters and brothers: May the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace,
and wave to those on the screens.


Revd Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga

Ernesto is on annual leave. He resumes his duties on Sunday, 9 May 2021.


Thank you
to everyone who has continued giving through our regular schemes during these past months.
Your generosity has been amazing and much appreciated.
We couldn’t have carried on without you.

We have various ways in which you can continue to give your offering in support of the Church.

For details please contact the Stewardship Secretary, Janet Trimnell, at

Full details are also available on our website at:

Hymn: Come on and celebrate!

Come on and celebrate!
His gift of love we will celebrate
the Son of God who loved us
and gave us life.
We’ll shout your praise, O King:
you give us joy nothing else can bring,
we’ll give to you our offering
in celebration praise.

Come on and celebrate,
celebrate and sing,
celebrate and sing to the King.
Come on and celebrate,
celebrate and sing,
celebrate and sing to the King.

Patricia Morgan


As we take leave of one another, may we abide with God,
grafted, rooted and pruned.
Lord, help us to stay connected to one another and to you,
bearing fruit wherever your love takes us.

And the blessings of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain upon us all now and for ever.



Church, abide in the Lord even as you love and serve him.

In the name of Christ, we will.


Have a blessed week ahead.

Revd George


Choral Song [Wesley]

From Choral Song in C and Fugue composed by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.