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

Waiting

Today the scripture assigned for the day talk about Mary and Martha and the death of Lazarus. Be aware as you read this scripture that Mary and Martha expected Jesus to come when they sent for him. Jesus love them and their brother and surely Jesus would come right away. Instead they waited for 2 days. They waited as we are waiting now for something to change. They waited and Jesus came and their grief was removed by the raising of Lazarus. They waited and in the end all was well. We must do the same. In the end:

• All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.     Julian of Norwich

Waiting and Trusting - Bless This Empty Nest

 

John 11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,[a] “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus[b] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Prepare

 

Isaiah 12:2-3

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might;   he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:  Give thanks to the Lord,  call on his name;  make known his deeds among the nations;  proclaim that his name is exalted.

prepare

During this advent season we have to keep the message out there. This season is about the birth of Christ. It is a time of preparation. Not just buying gifts, decorating, and cooking. It is about preparing ourselves. Take time to experience the aticipation, the expectation. Christ is coming!

 

God waits

Always waiting
Copy-of-God-waits-pin-2

God
I say that I seek you
But is that true?

I look for you
In the noise
Of mindless music

The television’s endless voice
Drowns out
Your voice

I hunt for you
By being in charge
By filling each moment
By running away

When things are good
I don’t remember you
Or call for you

When I am lonely
Or sad
Or afraid
I cry to you

Knowing that
No matter how
I ignore you

You will listen
And answer
My cry

God is waiting

Psalm 94:19 New International Version (NIV)

19 When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.

waiting

Sometimes we are overwhelmed with problems. Worry takes over our thoughts and easily escalates into anxiety and possibly panic. When our emotions take over it is hard to take a breath and remember our real strength doesn’t come from us.

It is God who is there for us just waiting. All we have to do is call out and we will receive the consolation we need. Turn toward God. He is there.

Stillness

Work is not always required….there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.     George Macdonald

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We have to take time to be still. Too often busy-ness keeps us moving all the time. Only in stillness can we hear the things God wants to whisper to us. Take the time for stillness and quiet so you can hear God.

Light/Darkness

light shines

 

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.   Charles A. Beard

This quote reminds me of one from my journal of saved quotes.

Now that my house has burned down I can see the moon more clearly.  From the movie Hiroshima

Both of these quotes remind us that light penetrates darkness. In the worst of times there is hope.

I will not be afraid!

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,

    a very present[a] help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

fear not 3

God is present. He is always with us. We can take refuge in Him. We have nothing to fear no matter what happens. Don’t be afraid but depend on God.

Trust

Proverbs 3:5

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.

Sometimes trusting God is not easy. Sometimes things seem so bad that we think that God has deserted us. Sometimes we just want to fix things ourselves.

trust God

 

All of these are times when we have to pray fervently, listen and wait for God. God is with us through everything. He never leaves us. We are the ones who leave. Turn back to God.

Angry words

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

hold-your-words-when-you-are-angry-because-ifelove-quotesandsayings-com-22569668

My father always told me to not respond in anger to someone who is angry. Good advice but not so easy to follow. When someone is yelling at me about something it is very hard to keep my cool. I can feel my heart racing and my mind gearing up for battle. I’m ready to yell back. Yet very little is solved in anger. Most problems are resolved when everyone calms down.

Prayer:  Gentle Jesus, help us to think of you and respond lovingly to someone who is angry. Amen