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

Use it well

God, give us work til our live shall end and life til our work is done. 

The New Zealand Prayer Book

use it well

 

This is something I think about a lot. I do feel that we are here for a reason and each of us want to finish our task. Sometimes it is not possible but our lives still have meaning. We leave things behind us like ripples in a pond. God has given us life. Now it is up to us to use it well.

Duty

Without duty, life is soft and boneless; it cannot hold itself together.     Joseph Joubert

So many people today want to move through life without having any duty to perform or any thought of having to work. Work fulfills us. The joy of creating something worthwhile feeds our soul. Just being idle leaves us feeling vapid and wasted. God calls us to find our work/vocation and fulfill our task on this earth.

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Colossians 3:23  Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters,

Religion is like holding on to a rock in the middle of a raging river; faith is learning how to swim.”       Source Unknown

RagingMercedWeb

Religion can be a wonderful thing but it is not the thing we strive for. Faith is the thing we seek. Faith is not just miraculously there one day. We have to work at. When we first start to swim we spend a lot of time sinking to the bottom. Even once we know how we can falter in a huge wave or use up all our energy staying afloat and sink. Faith is not a noun but a verb. It is not something we can hold in our grasp but something we must use. Faith is not knowing you can step out over the precipice but not being sure about it and still stepping out.

Prayer: Increase our faith day by day and give us the courage to use it. Amen

 

Refined by fire

We are always on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.
Henry Ward Beecher

Primitive-technology-pottery-stove-fire-clay-tools-bushcraft-5

We weren’t promised a rose garden. We were promised that God would never leave us. Having a life free of problems may not be the thing that makes us beautiful in God’s eyes. The Bible reminds us that pottery is put into the flame to make it beautiful. In times of trial turn to God and come out of the trial refined by him.

Prayer: Ever present God, go with us into the flame and bring us out made beautiful for you. Amen

 

Show me your hands

Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?
Fulton J. Sheen

WorkingHands

 We live is such a technical age. We have machines to wash out clothes and our dishes. We don’t have to put stamps on our mail and take it to the post office. We park as close as we can to the mall so that we don’t have to walk far. Then we complain that we work too hard. Most of us have no idea what real work is. Mother Theresa had those scars on her body but great love in her heart. We need to follow her example. I wonder if when we get to heaven St. Peter will ask us these questions.

Prayer: Lord, our life is easy compared with people in other countries. Many of us don’t have to work with our hands. We are called to do your work and to be your hands and feet. Get us moving! Amen

 

Cross to crown

No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.
William Penn

crown

Remember the old hymn that says “if you cannot bear the cross then you cannot wear the crown.” The Christian life is not easy. Sometimes it seems that way to us since we are at the end of an age when to be a Christian was the easy path. Everyone else (who mattered was Christian. Anyone who wanted to get with the in crowd went to church. You were accepted if you were Christian. Not so any more. The number of Christians is declining and we don’t have to go to church to be socially acceptable. It may even be becoming a detriment. What will you do then?

Prayer: Lord Jesus we have been complacent for too long. Help us to see that being Christian requires sacrifice. The cross is for us not the crown. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can we change?

Psalm 8:3-8

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    mortals[a] that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,[b]
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Earth-Day-Beautiful-Picture

Lord who are we to be worthy of your love? You have given us so much and I weep to see what we have done with it. We have not cared for the earth or its beauty. It is time for us to take responsibility for our selfishness and turn things around.

Loving God, help us to be worthy of your love. AMEN

What is grace?

1-13-Grace-DefinitionDo we really understand grace? Do we get that this gift is greater than any we have ever received or ever will. The fact that grace is a free gift of God does not remove us from responsibility. It is not a get out of jail free card. Grace carries with it the fact that God loves us so much that we are given this gift before we respond…..and respond we must. Living out the message of Christ and follow his word is our response.

Generous God, you are willing to give us the gift of grace without any promise on our part. Help us to respond with hearts full of love and willingness to be your hands and feet. AMEN