Abide, Live, Remain
Post date: Mar 19, 2021 4:31:0 PM
Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you during this season of Lent.
I want to share a reflection with you by Chuck DeGroat from his book Falling into Goodness: Lenten Reflections because, well, it’s just that good. And challenging. And encouraging for our journey with Jesus through the wilderness.
“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.” - John 15.4
What a strange word. I don’t use it much. Do you?
Some Bible translators use the word “remain.” Remain in me. But that sounds off to me — sort of like “you must remain here until the officer says you can go.”
When all else fails, when I’ve done my Greek studies and consulted my lexicons and bored my wife and daughters with questions about their observations, I go to my pastor-translator Eugene Peterson. His books on life, and particularly pastoral life, have formed and shaped me. His Bible translation (some might not like that term!) brings new insights and surfaces some of the original flavor of the first writers. Peterson’s translation goes like this:
Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.
Whoa. That hits home, quite literally.
The great St. Augustine once said, “God is more near to me than I am to myself.” He called God our “homeland.” If the Bible, Peterson, and Augustine are right and God is “home” in us, then I’ve got a confession to make: I’m not home.
It’s actually kind of like this: I live somewhere in the backyard. In fact, it’s not even a comfortable place. It’s a tent on the hard cold ground. And, even more, I don’t even look at my home very often. I’ve got lots of other distractions to keep my attention. And sometimes, I even begin to think a damp tent is as good as it gets.
God is at home but I am away. Can you relate? Imagine living on the grounds of a palatial estate, but never entering the doors. Imagine peeking through the windows but never living within. Franciscan priest Richard Rohr says, “We cannot attain the presence of God because we are already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.”
Jesus says, Make your home in me just as I’ve made mine in you.
Abide in me as I abide in you.
And then . . . remain there! The distractions aren’t nearly as satisfying.
Beloved, let us continue to make our home and remain in Christ this Fifth Sunday in Lent when we shall gather at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship at 10:30 AM. We are planning to pre-record the worship, so we will watch it together on Zoom and have our Prayers of the People afterwards. Linda Schueler is our featured soloist and she will sing “This Is the Day of New Beginnings,” “The Potter’s Hand,” and “Tree of Life and Awesome Mystery.” I will be preaching from John 12.20-33 and my sermon title is Falling into the Ground.
DeGroat ends his reflection with a prayer: Abiding God, I long to be at home in you and you in me. That you are far closer to me than I realize is a mystery, but one that captivates my distracted mind. Would you patiently but intentionally pursue me, invite me, and never, every give up, even when I look away? Amen
In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,