Abide with me

A wonderful word from one of the brothers of SSJE

 

My dear Friends,

The coronavirus has turned our worlds upside-down. Many of us have lost our jobs, our sense of security, or our loved ones.  Our daily routines have been disrupted. The people on whom we depend are now separated from us. Some of us are suffering from isolation, while others of us have too much family or community time! We are all concerned about what this virus will mean for our futures: for our jobs or careers, our social lives, our finances, our organizations or businesses, our churches, and our happiness.

We are finding solidarity with others around the world in our suffering, which may turn out to be a great gift if we recognize our oneness and mutual interdependence. But it is coming at a high cost.

How do we respond to these disruptions, losses and uncertainties? Where do we turn for support and encouragement, for consolation and hope?

In John’s gospel, Jesus speaks intimately and lovingly to his friends, knowing that he will soon be separated from them: “Abide in me as I abide in you,” he tells them (Jn 15:4). He knows that dark days are ahead. He knows their faith will be tested. He knows they will suffer. He tells them to “abide” in him.

We can understand this “abiding” as an expression of deep commitment and intimate communion. The Greek word that is used here in the original text has a sense of toughness about it. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Hang in there with me, and I’ll hang in there with you,” or “Stick it out with me and I’ll stick it out with you.” The word is usually translated as “abide” or “remain,” but it has this edgy quality about it.

I believe his words here are meant to convey both solace and challenge. We can abide in him as a place of refuge and safety. His love surrounds and protects us. It holds us steady and offers a deep peace that enables us to face great challenges with courage and strength. He abides in us. We find our home in him, just as he has made his home in us. We are forever joined in love and communion. As St Paul says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:35-39).

But these words also offer a challenge. The purpose of this “abiding” is to make our lives fruitful. There is work to be done and Jesus tells us that we are incapable of doing this work in our own strength. For this reason we need to be joined to him and to his strength; without him we can do nothing.

I’ve been reflecting on these two dimensions of Jesus’ call to “abide in me as I abide in you,” drawing consolation from Jesus’ nearness in these confusing times, and asking what he wants me/us to do in response to the peculiar challenges of our day. The call is to rest and to respond, to find solace and to find a sense of mission or purpose.

What does “abiding” mean to you? What implications does it have for you now, in these disorienting and uncertain times?

God bless you all,Br. David Vryhof, SSJE
Assistant Superior

God will forgive

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.

Psalm 86:5 NRSV

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. Free will gives us the ability to make wrong choices. Sometimes those choices hurt other people. Sometimes the mistakes hurt us. The fact that we made a mistake is not important. What is important is that we acknowledge the mistake and learn from it. God knows that we will err and forgives us.

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Clean up your act

Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

We are called to not judge other people….but we often forget that. Criticizing others can make us feel important or somehow”better than.” ‘m not thinking about the big things but the little everyday things like “why do she choose to wear that color” or “he always acts likes he’s in charge.” It is so easy to have these thoughts or make these comments.

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God has told us to watch out about this. He has laid it on the line. If we do this then we will be judged also. We are better off cleaning up our own ideas and being careful to be kind. There is enough to clean up in ourselves to last us a lifetime.

Discard hurts and grudges

We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges.

T. D. Jakes

let grudges go

It is so easy to hold onto grudges and past hurts. We can actually enjoy chewing over the hurt and savoring our pain. We can think back and relive the emotions and it gives us a kind of satisfaction.

This kind of thinking is toxic. The only person being harmed by it is us. God has promised us forgiveness of our own mistakes. How can we approach him with these thoughts foremost in our minds. To heal ourselves we must let go of hurtful memories and discard grudges. That healing will bring us to God ready for forgiveness.

Nothing can trouble

Matthew 6:34 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

I don’t know how many times my grandmother quoted this verse to me. Of course it was the King James version but the meaning is the same. I don’t know why it is in my nature to worry but I know that I am not alone. This is one of the things I am trying to change in myself. When I fall into a worried state I sing or listen to the Taize hymn. Here are the words. I have posted the Spanish sung version because it is so beautiful. Listen and sing along using the English words. (unless of course you speak Spanish)

Nothing can trouble,
nothing can frighten.
Those who seek God shall
never go wanting.
Nothing can trouble,
nothing can frighten.
God alone fills us.

 

God in Jesus is unchangable

Religion tends to prefer and protect the status quo or the supposedly wonderful past, yet what we now see is that religion often simply preserves its own power and privilege. God does not need our protecting. We often worship old things as substitutes for eternal things.

Richard Rohr

I-Change-Not-CLCBCOnline-www.clcbconline.com_

A study that I attended was about  how people view God. Each of us has our own view and to define it can be difficult. There are some people for who God is part of something visual. They may feel closer to God in the church they have attended all their lives. The only difficulty comes when something in that building is changed. The connection can be shaken. That is why changing something we have associated with our faith all our lives can be so distressing.

We can’t stay connected to the past. We have to live in the present. The words of the service may change, the building may change but our faith must stay connected to Jesus Christ himself.

Peace! Be Still!

Mark 4:39 

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
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Finding calm in the midst of a storm is not easy. For those who experienced Dorian know this for certain. But Jesus calmed the storm. Just his words did the job. Resting in the promises of Jesus is the way to find the calm. He has told us not to worry. God is in charge. Be still and be calm.

Nothing has changed

Psalm 12

Plea for Help in Evil Times

Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;

    the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,

The psalmist must have written this yesterday. The very same problems are still around.

nothing has changed

How often do we say the wrong thing?….saying something that really hurts someone. We gossip about others and don’t think about how the gossip can damage lives.

People in the public eye lie and cheat and no one thinks anything about it. I guess it was the same in the psalmist’s day. Why else would he have asked God to “cut off all flattering lips and the tongue that makes great boasts.” Nothing has changed. That is really sad.

The only way for things to change is one person at a time. Begin with yourself!