Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

The Best Hidden Church in Norwich

A fruit tree has been planted at Old Meeting House

One of the very first sermons preached by Timothy Armitage at The Old Meeting House in 1647 was about fruit-trees. I felt a strong sense that God wanted me to plant a Victoria plumb tree in the front garden of the chapel which I have just done and look forward to seeing bringing forth much fruit in the coming years. The word fruit in the Bible rarely symbolises souls brought to Christ. Rather it represents a personal righteousness – not what we do but what we are (compare Isaiah 5:1-7; Galatians 5: 22-23). Fruit, in the natural and biblical sense, is a product of the life of the vine, penetrating and perfusing the branches so that something useful is produced. There can be no fruit apart from the vine. As Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.”

Sadly we cannot by moral effort alone become fruitful. It is the result of daily association with Jesus. It begins with “abiding.” Abiding means utter dependence – or drawing on Christ for all that we do. It means sitting at His feet in solitude and surrender, listening for His voice, asking for His counsel, waiting for His impulses in intercession and action, then walking through the world trusting, resting, and asking for His help.

Abiding is acknowledging our inadequacy and our inability to change ourselves even one iota. It is a moment by moment yielding – not a fatalistic acquiescence or passive resignation, but an active submission of our whole being to Jesus so that His presence and power can be released through our bodies in every circumstance. It is an open receptivity that undergirds all we do.

The result, Jesus says, is fruit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kind​ness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” – those infused virtues that produce refreshment and healing in others.

Busy lives revolt against abiding. When we allow ourselves to be swept up in every cause and concern, when we surrender to every demand, when we give ourselves to every worthwhile project, when we try to be all things to all people all the time, we have no time to abide – and then we become useless. Like broken and detached branches we wither and die and are good for nothing.

I am praying that God will bless the fruit tree which has just been planted and use it to teach us many spiritual lessons.



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