The gospel texts from early May include these words from Jesus: “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... As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:5, 9).
The word abide is not one we use much in day-to-day speaking or writing. But it is a word which maybe ought to be restored to more every-day use. Pastor Clint Schnekloth writes, “to abide is to stay, to continue in place, to rest, to dwell, to sojourn, to pause, to wait, to continue, to wait for, to be prepared for, to endure...”
I like to think of abide as a Sabbath word, at once inviting deep rest, regeneration, and rejuvenation while at the same time assuring us that such a resting place actually exists. If you imagine our life of faith as a pendulum swinging back and forth between the poles of work and rest, Jesus’ concept of fruit-bearing could be pictured near the pole of work, while the concept of abiding would appear near the pole of rest. Just as a gardener needs to intentionally prune back branches in order to allow for maximum fruit-bearing, so our abiding in Jesus allows us to let go of certain things in order to be.
Or perhaps you might picture it this way: in our house, we have a designated charging station—basically a surge-protected extension cord with multiple outlets. Every night each of us plugs in our phones, ipods, and tablets before we head off to bed. Our devices abide there for the night, simultaneously powering down and charging up again. By the morning, having spent some time in resting mode, they, like us, are ready for another day of work—fruit-bearing, life-giving, burden-sharing work.
Summer at CtK gives us an opportunity to practice such abiding in our congregational life. Our pace is different. Our rhythms change. Many of our regular program ministries take a break during the summer months, while others—especially those aimed at serving the community—take their place (see page 8). We abide, continuing to plug into worship, prayer, and community-building, but powering down from some of the more hectic activities—some of which may have become less fruitful over time.
It’s true that we continue to be in a season of transition at CtK—some of which has been difficult, stressful, and exhausting for many of us. Part of what we can do during these summer months as we abide in Jesus is to begin to create space for whatever’s coming next. As we abide in Jesus, clinging to him like branches to a vine, we can also take the time to notice how we are connected both to him and to one another, greater than the sum of our various parts.
Abiding in Jesus,
Originally published in the June 2015 issue of the Herald. Read the complete issue (PDF).