April 6, 2016
-by Laurie Brock
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.
Meet Penny, Evie, and Gabby. They are abiding. They are abide very well when they are watching me eat.
Usually they are quite active as they abide, as friends do. Food to eat, squirrels to chase, stinky places to roll in, strangers to bark at, naps to take, and other important things that must be done with wild abandon and deep joy. Evie belongs to me, and Penny and Gabby to two friends.
They are all, as you can likely tell, terrier mixes. They are all rescues, abandoned by their former owners and left alone for periods in their early lives.
I’ve often wondered what went through their doggie minds when they came to their forever homes. Did they wonder how long they would stay in this place before they were left…again? Were they frightened, cautious, or unsure? Or did they understand, in some instinctual way, that after their various journeys of hardship, mistrust, neglect, and abandonment, they were finally home, they were finally in a place where they could abide, where they could fully be the pups they were created to be?
Abiding, after all, for those of us who have been abandoned at times in our lives, means we are actually free to rest in Christ’s love and to be in God’s grace.
“Abide in me, and I in you,” Jesus tells us in John. He’s says this as he uses a favorite metaphor of faith, plants. Branches, Jesus reminds us, have no fruitful life unless they are rooted to the vine. Abide, remain, commit – Jesus explains that our Easter faith is not a passing event, but the deep root system that grounds us. Abiding in Christ is not fleeting. We don’t enjoy it for a while, and when the parts that challenge us appear, when the fun is fading, and when we realize to abide also means we ourselves are called to change, we give this holy love back and move on to the next place.
Instead, we are reminded to abide.
Too often our culture treats faith much like it treats anything that seems new and exciting for a while – we embrace it until…
Until we are unsettled when our lives and expectations brush up agains the lives and expectations of others who also proclaim Easter faith and loving neighbors and enemies becomes a tangible event. Until faith chews on our deeply held ideas that may need reshaping or even discarded. Until love needs to be walked around the block again and it’s cold outside but love needs movement and action to thrive, not simply talk and good intentions. Until grace looks at us with soulful eyes and asks us to feel our selves being transformed in the presence of God.
In these moments, we may be tempted to return our faith and find something newer, nicer, and less challenging.
And Jesus nudges us. Abide with me.
Abiding allows us to discover the depths of our love for God. Abiding invites us to walk through the Good Fridays of our lives, to enter the stasis of Holy Saturdays, and to embrace the joy of Resurrection over and over again. Abiding challenges us to sit, to stay, to be. Abiding means we will grow and change as we bear the fruits of our deep relationship with God in community.
Abide with me.
When we came to our forever homes in the love of Christ through the waters of baptism, do we wonder how long we will stay in this place until we leave? In our life with Christ, when we are frightened, challenged, cautious, or unsure, do we want to flee? Or do we understand, in some instinctual way, that after our various journeys of hardship, mistrust, neglect, and abandonment, we are finally home in Christ, that we are finally in a place where we can abide, where we can be the beloved disciples we were created to be?
Can we abide?
What image captures a sense of abiding for you? Share it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or in the comments) with #abide #50daysEaster.