A Service for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

A Service for the Fifth Sunday of Easter



Before beginning to read this short service, you may wish to find a space for prayer in front of a cross, a candle, or a special place.  During the Easter Season we call to mind the days when our Lord passed from death to life and appeared to his disciples and spoke with them. 


May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

Alleluia Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed.  Alleluia


The Collect


Let us pray that we may walk the risen life of Christ in glory.


Silence is kept.


Risen Christ,

your wounds declare your love for the world

and the wonder of your risen life:

give us compassion and courage

to risk ourselves for those we serve,

to the glory of God the Father.



The First Hymn


How Sweet The name of Jesus Sounds:  - please access Simon’s accompaniment here:



How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds

In a believer's ear!

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,

And drives away his fear.


It makes the wounded spirit whole,

And calms the troubled breast;

'Tis manna to the hungry soul,

And to the weary rest.


Dear Name! the Rock on which I build;

My shield and hiding-place;

My never-failing treasury, filled

With boundless stores of grace.


Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,

My Prophet, Priest, and King;

My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,

Accept the praise I bring.


Weak is the effort of my heart,

And cold my warmest thought;

But when I see Thee as Thou art,

I'll praise Thee as we ought.


Till then I would Thy love proclaim

With every fleeting breath;

And may the music of thy Name

Refresh my soul in death


The Reading:

Acts 8: 26-end


Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,

   and like a lamb silent before its shearer,

     so he does not open his mouth.

In his humiliation justice was denied him.

   Who can describe his generation?

     For his life is taken away from the earth.’

The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’ He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. 


The Gospel:

John 15: 1-8


‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.





 “Abide in me, as I abide in you” - John 15: 4


The Church continues through the time of the Easter Season as it moves ever on to Rogation and Ascension and Pentecost.  It reflects the new life expressed in resurrection, and expresses through the words of Christ, last Sunday through dwelling on his being the Good Shepherd, and this week thinking of the pastoral, or at least horticultural picture left with us by our Lord in the gospel for today.  Jesus said, “I am the true vine” and continues to work through the implications of the fruitful and unfruitful follower in terms of branches and pruning and the general health of the plant. It is a familiar picture, as is its teaching that we must abide in Christ and he in him if we are to be healthy and fruitful members of his body, the Church.


 “Fellowship” is a word with particular resonances for Christians.  Not only did the disciples share fellowship one with another, there is a strong sense that that is what the Holy Spirit intended for them and brought about.  There are some church traditions that have a particular emphasis on fellowship and this mutual reliance on one another was exhibited particularly clearly in the life of the early Methodist congregations, and indeed continues to this day as they speak of part of their church structure as a ‘connection’.  This koinonia, “fellowship”, also became enshrined in some Wesleyan hymns, such as in Charles Wesley’s words:


He bids us build each other up;

And, gathered into one,

To our high callings glorious hope,

We hand in hand go on.


We all partake the joy of one,

The common peace we feel,

A peace to sensual minds unknown,

A joy unspeakable.


And if our fellowship below,

In Jesus be so sweet,

What heights of rapture shall we know,

When round his throne we meet.


Charles Wesley demonstrates the different elements of unity and fellowship; with one another, with Christ, through eternity, and its fruitful outcome.


Jesus said, “Abide in me as I abide in you”


This is not a statement that we can just accept as a reassuring and comforting agreement that means that all will be well.  We cannot abide in Christ, and he in us, without things happening; such a connection is not theoretical, is not passive, and though it should be reassuring, I am not at all sure that it should be comfortable.  Just the very opposite, might be nearer the mark, for if Christ abides in me, I am harbouring a living flame of love. 


The picture of the branches withering and burning, is not something happening to others, it is potentially happening to me. Abiding in Christ means growing into conformity with him, that his teaching may be held within, that the pure essence of his spiritual life may begin, and thereafter continue, the work of transformation of a Christian towards fruitful discipleship. Being attached to the divine rootstock gives us, as we grow, confidence to step forward on the way of grace.


It is the cherished and eternal hope of the Christian soul that, as one abides in Christ and he in us, that in standing before the risen and ascended Lord, that we shall be known and loved and accepted, as one such as the penitent thief who asked simply to be remembered, or as the prodigal son returns with the realisation that in one sense he has died, but seeks the new life that only his father can give him.  But, however, we sense our soul’s place in the abiding presence of Christ, we need to have a healthy understanding of the paradoxes of Christian discipleship. The central paradox of all is that we can only live if we die, we can only achieve life if we lose it.  We have this day already prayed that we may be dead to sin and alive in Jesus Christ.


The process of dying is the action of the pruning of the vine.  Gardeners know that pruning frequently reinvigorates the plant, as growth appears, if the plant is left straggly and un-pruned, to be experienced just at the periphery of the plant. Pruning causes dormant buds to open in the very wooden stems, which appear to the eye as old and dead.   They can begin regenerating.  Green shoots appearing through cracks in the gnarled old bark.  It is almost as if that part of the trunk of the tree has remembered something that it had forgotten, that it has been awoken out of a dream, like a sleeping princess is awoken with a kiss after a hundred years of inactivity or suspended animation. 


Christ provides us with a different picture of abiding, one which is an eternal present; life which we live now with a constant encouragement to experience a spring-time of our spiritual life, as we find ourselves abiding in the true vine, Jesus Christ, who stimulates within us new growth from the most unpromising of sources.  It is not just a matter of turning from sin, important though that may be, it is in acknowledging that we cannot possess, unless we cease to possess, we cannot know unless we cease to know, we cannot be strong unless we are weak, we cannot be wise unless we shed wisdom, we cannot live unless we die. 


In one sense as long as our mortal life continues we will always have, in some degree or other, possessions, knowledge, wisdom, strength and life, but in another way, we may lose them all, in so far as they own us and define us to others and most importantly to God.  People who have faced and overcome through faith, great tragedy, failure, sin or some immense challenge in their lives will probably see, that though they may apparently possess all necessities and perhaps comforts in life, they actually possess nothing, except faith in the abiding love of Christ. If we would abide in Christ we should not seek such for comfort, though that will come, but to try our souls in the living flame of his love, for his burning purity is what makes us whole.


John Mann




Second Hymn


Ye that know the Lord is Gracious:https://youtu.be/mxFFieogoy4


Ye that know the Lord is gracious,

ye for whom a cornerstone

stands, of God elect and precious,

laid that ye may build thereon,

see that on that sure foundation

ye a living temple raise,

towers that may tell forth salvation,

walls that may re-echo praise.


Living stones, by God appointed

each to his allotted place,

kings and priests, by God anointed,

shall ye not declare his grace?

Ye, a royal generation,

tell the tidings of your birth,

tidings of a new creation

to an old and weary earth.


Tell the praise of him who called you

out of darkness into light,

broke the fetters that enthralled you,

gave you freedom, peace and sight:

tell the tale of sins forgiven,

strength renewed and hope restored,

till the earth, in tune with heaven,

praise and magnify the Lord





Almighty God grant us hearts alive in the Spirit of the risen Christ as we bring our intercessions before your throne of mercy and grace


Almighty God we pray for the Church of which we are a part: the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world; and for all the congregations of the Swanage and Studland team of churches, as well as our sisters and brothers in all the other churches of Swanage.  We ask your blessing especially on this Diocese of Salisbury and for Nicholas and Karen our bishops.   We also pray today, as we look towards the beginning of Christian Aid Week next Sunday, for the Swanage Christian Aid Committee and for all the work of Christian Aid throughout the world, especially during these difficult pandemic times.


Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayer.


Lord, we prayer for your merciful guidance on the nations of the world, especially those which are going through extended periods of conflict and instability.  As we pray, we remember the refugees and those you are being held captive, especially praying for those whose future seems hopeless to them.  We bring before you today all whose vocation is to build up in love those whose lives are broken, as we plead for mercy and forgiveness for our mistakes, and plead for energy and intent to help where we can in the days to come.


Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayer.



Father, bring your grace and comfort to our community here in Swanage, as we pray for all who are at work through the days of the health crisis in which we find ourselves, and for those who would like to be out and busy, but are confined.  Bring strength to those in our schools, hospitals, care homes, shops, and other essential institutions serving the public in these times of anxiety.  We pray for all in positions of authority in the nation as they seek to guide the people of this country through this difficult period, and for local community leaders for all their care and direction.


Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayer.


Look in your mercy, Lord Jesus, and touch with your healing those who are unwell and those who care for the sick, and for the loved ones who bring comfort and support.  Especially, we pray for those from these parishes who are unwell, or frail from age, or the effects of surgery or illness in the near or distant past.  Help us to reach out to those who are part of our life as a worshipping community, but are unable to access our Sunday services.  We remember in our prayers too, all who have been recently bereaved, or who, through a time of anniversary, or for whatever reason, are especially affected by deep feelings of loss and loneliness today.


Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayer.



The Lords Prayer


A few moments of silence before we say the…..


Easter acclamations:


Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He has given us new life and hope.

He has raised Jesus from the dead.

God has claimed us as his own.

He has brought us out of darkness.

He has made us light to the world.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.


God the Father,

by whose love Christ was raised from the dead,

open to all who believe the gates of everlasting life.

God the Son,

who in bursting from the grave has won a glorious victory,

give us joy as we share the Easter faith.

God the Holy Spirit,

who filled the disciples with the life of the risen Lord,

empower us and fill us with Christ’s peace.


Allabreve in D J.S.Bach: https://youtu.be/LNwyvgl9mxQ