Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Abide in Me

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus says,
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. Machrina Blasdell has preached on this text saying,
This passage from John’s gospel utilizes the image of vinedresser and vineyard to describe the relationship between God and Christian believers. What is the purpose of such care and tending? That we will bear fruit. That we may perhaps have a clearer understanding of our relationship to the vine.

Today is Mother’s Day. Many of us are mothers. Many of us have mothers. Any understanding of motherhood includes cajoling, guiding, and giving – as well as taking away, in the form of grounding, being put on “time out,” or being sent to our room. Isn’t this a bit like God’s role as the Vinedresser? God tends, mother guides. God counsels, mother teaches. God prunes, mother takes away, or puts on “time out,” or in some way lets us know that we will behave!

In both cases, the aim is to grow good fruit. For Mother, we are to become strong and wise and educated and courageous and ethical and use very good table manners. For God, well, for God we are to abide in God. Abide. Find our home in. Stake our claim in.

That sounds so easy, doesn’t it? We have only to glance again at the epistle reading from 1 John to realize how hard this is. We must love our brothers and sisters.

Imagine this in the family scenario: What does Mother do when we don’t love our brothers and sisters? Remember the old expression “gettin’ smacked upside the head”? John’s gospel uses the more elegant language of pruning to describe the vineyard scene, but it amounts to the same thing. We are to grow, to develop, to learn well from our teachers and to live the life to which we are called. And it’s hard work.

All of this conviction that we are called and expected to answer our Lord’s love with action, with fruit bearing, is rooted in our baptism with the promise “I will, with God’s help.” There’s that give-and-take construction again. In this Easter season it is good to remember that for the earliest Christians, baptism was the claiming of faith and being claimed by God. It was the nurturing and tending of the seedling until the tender shoot grew strong. The preparation for baptism took months and even years to accomplish because of all there was to learn and do in order to take on an active role in the community of faith. We stand on the shoulders of these saints in our present-day faith, charged to remember that the activity of faith is not easy or optional.

“Abide in me as I abide in you.” Jesus said. This doesn’t mean settle down, it means get busy.
The full text of her sermon is online here: Abide in Me.



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