Resurrection Lutheran Church of Dublin
7557 Amador Valley Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 925.828.1580
A Word from Our Pastor
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide,
the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
This is the first couple of lines in an old hymn that we most often hear in lent or at funerals. It is a hymn that speaks of our deepest fears and yet still centers itself on our greatest hope. What does it mean to abide? A simple definition is to remain or stay, to say I abide here is another way of saying this is where I live. Other implications include acting or accepting a particular rule or way of life. Just as this hymn asks the Lord to abide with us so too has Jesus asked us to abide with or live with him. This understanding approaches the very heart of the mysteries of God and is something I have
pondered a long time. This is not to say I understand fully but I have gained a few insights. Jesus speaks about this in more than one of the Gospel, not always using the word abide but the connections are there. Probably the clearest statement is found in the Gospel of John:
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. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. John 15:4-11
The easiest way to think about Jesus’ thought is to see it as a metaphor. To think that abiding in Christ is a way of thinking about a relationship that is much more complicated. Certainly thinking of ourselves as the branches and Jesus as the vine is like that. It gives us an image to help us focus on his meaning but I am not sure we should take his invitation to abide in him quite so loosely. I think if we do we will lose something vital. Understanding however requires that we see the essential unity of God. To see that Jesus and God are truly one. Once we understand that, it is easy to see that to abide in Jesus is to abide in the heart and mind of God, that our reality becomes God’s reality and it is God alone that sustains our life, both here and forever.
Paul preaching to the Greeks on the Areopagus stated this truth in another way.
The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him-- though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.' Acts 17:24-28
There is one last step in this thought, Jesus said; ”If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” Love is truly the key. First God’s love for us for that is creation itself. And then our love for God and those around us which is our willingness to remain in creation, to remain within the will of God which brings all things into being. In a very real sense love is all there is (John Lennon was a very smart man.) Love, God’s love and through and because of God’s love, our love for God sustains all things. Through this love God raised Christ from the dead and by this same love we and those we love will be raised as well.
There is a lot more to think about here, but for now I will end this with a connected thought and blessing from Saint Peter:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5
May the God in whom we live (abide) and move and have our being sustain you now and forever.
Pastor Jim Bliss