Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. You gotta love Paul and the epistles he has such a way with greetings. Now it took me some time to determine what I would talk about today. If I was in my pulpit in Mimbres I would be continuing with John 15 and summarizing how we abide in the love of Christ and produce fruit for the glorification of God, how we follow Jesus as His disciples. But I thought I’m preaching to the choir here. Everyone here is in some way already serving God. So, what do you preach to a bunch of preachers. It occurred to me that not only did John Wesley rarely have a pulpit to preach out of, Jesus never had one, so it’s safe to say that I don’t need one either. And following that logic it also occurred to me that John 15 is still perfect because Jesus was preaching to the choir as well. And if you think about it Jesus spent a great deal of His time preaching to the choir, either the Pharisee or the Disciples both wanted the Kingdom of God. Neither believed that Jesus was the physical manifestation of the spiritual kingdom to come. But no matter, listen for just a minute to the word of God. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. [John 15:9-17] This is part of what’s known as the upper room discourse and this is Jesus speaking to His disciples before he goes to the Garden and then the cross. He is teaching them and He’s teaching us what it means to be disciples, to follow Jesus.
This is also where He gives that most important command that is to be fulfilled under the new covenant. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  It’s not the greatest commandment. To love God with all your heart mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself, that’s under the old covenant. Rather He tells us to abide in His love, as He has abided in the Fathers love. That if we keep His commandments as He kept His Fathers, now what commandment did Jesus follow, He came to us and died for us as God commanded Him to do, No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  Jesus isn’t asking us to die for Him He asks us to abide in His love and we will have complete Joy, not only that but we will be friends and not servants. Because slave’s do as they are commanded because they have no knowledge of the master’s plans. If you don’t know what’s going on you can’t make decisions period. But Jesus has told us the plan, not just part of the plan but all the plan. Not His plan but God the Fathers plan. That we are chosen by Him to bear fruit to Glorify the Father. That as we abide in the love of Christ we can ask in His name and receive whatever we ask from the Father. But most importantly He commands us to love one another as He has loved us. To bear fruit and to love one another as He loves us so that we may abide in His love. Amen. And that is what we the choir have been doing these past weeks. I have learned so much from all of you. I truly want to thank each of you for the grace and love that you have shown me and each other. I have seen us abiding in the love of Jesus. I have seen the fruit that’s been produced by everyone here. The perseverance of the spirit, as we found our balance, the strength to carry on, and the wisdom to know that all things are related, the ability to look at things from a new perspective, the wonder that keeps us looking for God in the smallest things, the willingness to jump in there a try something new, and the enthusiasm to make it succeed, the drive to maintain that success, and the experience to keep ourselves focused, the practicality that keeps that success from turning to pride, and the patience that forgives our mistakes. All these things I see as fruit, not just fruit for a day but fruit that will last an eternity.
For we are promised not just a season to bear fruit, but all of eternity. As we abide in the love of the Son we know the love of the Father. Amen.