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Abide

Yr B Easter 5

1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

In John’s letter, and in the Gospel according to John, the word “abide” is very important. John uses the word repeatedly, and in slightly different ways. Here are a few examples

  • By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
  • God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God.
  • God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

The challenge we have is that we don’t use “abide” in this way in common speech today. To grasp John’s message, and Jesus’ teaching about abiding, we need to do some work. In John’s letter and in the Gospel, “abide” is used much the way “believe” is used:

  • To believe is to put your trust in another
  • To believe is to cherish, and to hold dear
  • So, when we abide in God
    • Trusting in God
    • Loving God
    • We are living in God,

Abide is also like the word abode. Both come from the same root.

  • John Chapter 14: “In my father’s house there are many rooms…”
  • The metaphor of a house is consistent with the language of abiding. To abide in God is to live in God.

Are you a noun or a verb?

  • We talk about ourselves as though we were nouns.
  • We tell stories about what happens to us…
    • We are often the innocent victims when bad things happen
    • We are more involved than that.
      • We are participants in our stories
      • We are involved in what is happening
      • We tell our stories as though we are nouns – Characters in the story
        • We are really verbs – we are participants in the story

To abide in God

  • Is not to place yourself in God’s house like a decorative vase
  • We are not objects in God’s house.
  • We are participants in what is happening in God’s house

Expand our concept of a house

  • A house is more than a structure to keep you out of the weather
  • A house is more than a place to keep your stuff
  • What matters most about a house are the people you live with in the house
  • When we live together there are certain expectations
    • Clean up after yourself in kitchen
    • Buy more milk and eggs if you use them up
    • Tidy and clean the bathroom
    • Pick up after yourself
    • We do all these things to get along with the other people in the house
    • The really hard stuff is the relationships
      • Living well together requires humility and compassion.

To abide in God is to live in God.

  • To live in God is to participate in what is happening in God’s house.
  • But there are all these other people living there with us, so abiding in God is complicated.

Last week we talked about the struggle of being human:

  • We are imperfect, wired for conflict, and worthy of love and belonging.

We are imperfect,

  • So we need to cultivate an attitude of humility

We are wired for conflict

  • So we need to cultivate an attitude of forgiveness

We are also worthy of love and belonging

  • So we need to cultivate an attitude of compassion – for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters.

We abide in God by cultivating an attitude of humility, forgiveness, and compassion.

  • Living together is hard.
  • Abiding in God together is hard.
  • We can’t do it alone.

Jesus says, “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. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

 

The Rev. David Marshall

St. Dunstan’s Church, Shoreline WA

May 6, 2012

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