Dear Church Family,
Our Gospel text this Sunday comes from John 15 in which Jesus refers to himself as The True Vine. Like last week’s text (The Good Shepherd), this is another way Jesus shows us how he understands who he is in relation to his Father. Jesus tells us that he is the True Vine and that his Father is the Gardener. This certainly rings true if we consider the creation story in Genesis, in which God creates the perfect garden in which to dwell with his people. It can also act as a warning to those who are not connected (or grafted) into the True Vine. Over the centuries the church has at times taken it upon itself to use passages such as this to decide who is “in” and who is “out”. The good and the bad, the right and the wrong. I believe that we must take caution with such approaches to the words of Jesus.
The invitation to be grafted onto the True Vine and receive his life is something that is available to all and our duty as the church is to ensure that we do not change this message. The Great Commandment of Jesus is that we love (God and one another) – indeed to participate in the divine life is to love and be loved. Canon Ivor Moody from Chelmsford Cathedral notes:
To have loved one another means that we will have done all we possibly could, we will have done all that was humanly possible to try and ensure everyone is ushered into the Kingdom, but that if any fall short, … then any task of segregation or division belongs to God and not to us. It becomes a task for the heavenly city and not the earthly one, and the rivers of hatred and blood that mark the progress of our earthly city is testimony to the fact that the segregation, the attempts at purification, the categorisation that we try to do here is indeed a fallen, warped, disfigured interpretation of an activity which belongs to God alone.”
In other words, we are to be an inclusive and non-judgemental people. The church is a place for us redeemed sinners to find rest for our souls and not an exclusive club that is off-limits to those who do wrong. Let’s orient our lives into the life of the True Vine and allow him to shape and steer us in love.
I am both saddened and delighted to be able to announce the retirement of our long-serving and faithful Licensed Lay Minister John Patterson from public ministry at the end of June this year. Saddened because the parish will no longer benefit from John’s leadership, teaching, and gentle caring nature as he serves the church. Delighted as it gives us a chance to celebrate over 25 years of licensed ministry, Christian witness, and service. John has been a faithful friend and support to me in the four years I have been in Hutton and I will miss his wisdom and guidance in Leadership Team gatherings.
It should also be said that John isn’t going anywhere else! Both he and Theresa will continue to be part of our church family here in Hutton but with less of a public-facing ministry. Please pray for John, Theresa, and their family as they move into this next phase of life.
John’s last services as a Licensed Lay Minister will be Sunday 27th June. He will preach at both morning Holy Communion services before we gather for a parish lunch at St Peter’s from 1pm. Please put this date in your diary – all are welcome at the lunch (details to follow).
If you would like to donate towards a gift for John, please send cash or cheques to the Parish Office by Sunday 20th June. Bank transfers referenced “John Patterson Gift” are also welcome.