This Sunday, even though we are still in the Easter season, our gospel lesson takes us back in time to when Jesus, prior to his arrest and crucifixion, is teaching his disciples about the relationship between God and Jesus and God and all of us. The vine and the branches are an object lesson; we all know what our clippings look like after we’ve severed them from the hedges or trees we trim. Very quickly they become brown, brittle, lifeless.
Sometimes we may feel like those branches — cut off and losing our spiritual vitality. When that happens, what is it that brings us back to feeling alive and well and held in the loving nearness of God?
In John’s gospel Jesus uses the term “to abide” repeatedly. It’s not a term we use a lot today, but it is a rich concept. To “abide” in some thing or someone is to find your life in them, with them, through them. Literally, the word means to “pitch one’s tent with, to wait with, tarry with, endure with”. We might think of the old phrase to cast your lot with – that is to permanently affiliate with, come what may. God abides with us – having taken up residence in human history and human hearts, in Jesus. In this week’s lesson, Jesus paints a picture of how our very life sustenance is derived from our abiding with God.
This passage also raises some questions about HOW we abide in God. While it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, we may even hear an invitation to “bear much fruit”, fruit that brings glory to God, by abiding with God, in ways we’ve not thought of before. We abide in God in our prayer life, in our taking in the Word, are we also abiding with God when we go to those to whom God has sent us? How are we abiding with, being with, enduring with, tarrying with the poor, those who are afraid or mistreated? Is there an element of abiding in God when we speak out for those God has asked us to have concern for?
God has come to live in us; may we find our “abiding in” this week to be quality time that makes a life-giving difference for us and for others. Abide this week immersed in God’s presence and walking as living reminders of God’s love and resurrection power to all who need to be restored.
Abiding, with you, in God’s love,