“Abide In My Love” / John 15:9-17
Sermon by Pastor Mark Siler, 5/2/18
Our country is founded on the notion that we all are created with the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While Jefferson and his cohorts may have been wise in recognizing this as a basis for a new nation, it is also misleading. It suggests that life, liberty and happiness are to be earned instead of received.
Jesus tells us in this part of his farewell that life, freedom, joy, love, friendship, fruit that lasts…come not through our acquiring them but through our abiding in him. They are already here, already given. Christ holds them for us. It is not about our pursuits. It is about our place. Where and how and with whom do we abide? The answer to that question determines our lives. Everything flows from there. The 10 commandments, the Sabbath, the teaching of the prophets, Jesus’ command to imitate his love, the traditions and practices of the church…all of these are given to us with the hope that we can recognize and abide in Christ, in Abba the Father, in a way that also allows Christ, Abba the Father to abide in us. They mark the place.
We abide when we say “yes” to this place that Jesus showed us, prepared for us. That “yes” always requires a release of any sense of unworthiness, a letting go of fear, a surrender of self-will, a falling into the divine mercy which is always way more than we can comprehend or manage.
In today’s passage, Jesus describes what happens once we give our lives to this place of mutual abiding. Joy becomes complete. We are able to love sacrificially, just as Jesus loved. We join the holy circle of friendship, where masters and servants, powerful and powerless, superior and inferior, are no more. We become those who both delight in and share the fruit that lasts.
Once, at the end of a long hard day at the prison, I turned to an incarcerated friend and said, “this place feels like a hurricane.” He said, “Chap, that’s why you have to stay in the eye.” As we know here all too well, our faith does not mean that we get to avoid the hurricanes. If Jesus is our example, we might even conclude that faith attracts them. But our faith, when it leads us to this abiding, to making a home in God’s unwavering love, can keep us in the eye of the storms. That eye is here and now. It is prepared and given to us. It is where joy and love and friendship and fruit enough for everyone are always present and never ending, right smack dab in the middle of it all.