The fifth Sunday of Easter

To watch our worship for Easter 5, please click here

To watch a celebration of Holy Communion (Eucharistic Prayer), please click here

All these resources may be used in conjunction with the order for Spiritual Communion at Home, which can be found here

Here is Hayley's homily for today:

Over the past fourteen months, we have seen a lot of change in the way we do things.

For church congregations, we have had to get our head around not being able to welcome each other in the usual ways.

Especially at the Peace part of the service.

And as Fr Barrie jokingly said, at Mass, on Wednesday, there are now two ways of greeting each other at the Peace.

A one handed wave, or a two handed wave.

Which one are you?

I've come to the conclusion that, the one handed wave, is the new handshake and the two handed wave is the new hug.

Connections- we've all felt more than ever over this past year, that it has been very different in how we have had to communicate and connect with each other, doing so from afar in our pews.

There is no getting away from the fact having to sanitise hands every time you meet together, a mask covering your mouth, steamed up glasses and not being able to come within two metres of each other, has taken some getting used too.

At the recent funeral of Prince Phillip, in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

One of the most powerful pictures, that touched the hearts of the nation was,

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, sitting on her own at her husband's funeral.

It’s something that many families around the country have had to face during times of grief at funerals and when loved ones have had to go into hospital with no one to sit at their bedside, to hold their hands. It’s heart-breaking!

The bond of love is a strong one, to be with each other, especially in times of sorrow. And I think maybe that's been the hardest part of all for everyone. At a time when people have really needed comfort, a touch of a hand, a hug, or a kiss on the cheek, it’s not been able to happen.

It has felt very cruel,

but for now, very necessary to do so.

In our relationships,

We are meant to be connected.

We are meant to love.

First and foremost to love God, because he loved us first and then to love each other.

Our readings today, remind us of this. We must always stay connected to God and love each other.

I am the vine you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.

I wonder if this year has made you feel more connected to God or less connected.

Apart from him, you can do nothing.

Our strength comes from God for everything.

Going back to her Majesty the Queen, one of the comments about her and how she will cope now that she is on her own has the reply-

'Her faith will sustain her'.

And our faith will sustain us too, through everything that life throws at us, if we stay connected to the true vine. Jesus Christ.

If we remain in him, we can do everything but if we try to do things on our own we bare no fruit.

For a branch needs to be always attached to the vine to bear fruit.

Our Gospel reading is saying today.

Stay connected to

God.  (The vine)

You are his branches.

He loves you.

If you remain in him your life will bear fruit in plenty.

That doesn't mean to say that he sometimes prunes the branches- (us.)

He prunes us to make us bare even more fruit.

That can feel quite painful, and we don't always know the reason why God allows the things he does, especially when we see our loves ones suffer or we have to leave behind those we love but he does promise us strength to get through.

When a branch is pruned the plant grows stronger.

Each of us here at St John's is part of God's vineyard.

Each one of us are his branches in this place - and I think that most of us have felt God's pruning this year.

But we have been sustained by the continuing prayer life, worship, love, and care that God and our church has provided.

And there are new shoots starting to show through, with small advances to slowly getting some normality back.

To hopefully one day when we will be allowed to welcome our brothers and sisters with a real St Johns welcome.

Bringing new life to this Holy Place.

We have come so far and been through so much together during this time and we still have quite a way to go, but God will continue to sustain us and bring us through.

So hold fast, take heart, have patience and when the time is right and safe to do so-.

As in the words of a well-known verse says. -  Bloom where you are planted.