This Sunday, Suzanne Brown will read a verse from the Gospel of John. In this scripture Jesus says to his followers: “Abide in me as I abide in you. “
“Abide” is our word of the day! It is a word that we don’t use very much, and it’s important that you understand what it means. “Abide” means: to “Stay close to me” or to “stick with me.” It means to be “rooted in place”, but to grow and to change as you grow, like a tree of a plant or a vine.
We abide with our family. We abide with our friends of all ages. The hundreds of memories and experiences you share along with new experiences will change you and will change who you become. Like trees or vines, we grow and change.
No matter how old you are, your family will always be your family. When you are grown, and move away from home, your memories and connection to your family – to your parents, your grandparents, your brothers and sisters – will continue. They will abide. Your memories of your friends and neighbors, of others who are important to you, and the places you love will also continue. We abide with who and what is most important in our lives.
In the scripture Suzanne will read, Jesus asks his disciples to abide with God. He asks us to make ourselves at home in the church and in the church community, and to show our love to others by being kind to those around us.
“I am the true vine; my Abba Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.”
Every gardener and every person who grows fruit, knows that they need to trim the fruit tree or vine, to get the best fruit. If they don’t the fruit will be tiny and there won’t be as much of it. Just like a gardener who prunes the tree, we change as we grow. You are not the same person you were two years ago. You are taller. You have learned new skills, and you have probably changed some of your habits. Habits such as selfishness, and using words that hurt others, make it hard for other people to see how much we love them. As we grow to become strong and loving adults, we need to change our habits.
“I am the vine, and you are the branches.”
No branch can produce fruit unless it is connected to a tree or vine. No one can do everything themselves. We all rely on others: for food, for help, for love, and for support. We find God in our community. The people you meet and the things you do with others change you.
Jesus teaches us to love God and to care for each other. When we are loving, when we treat others with kindness we make the world a better place. When we are kind to others, they will follow our example. They will also share their love and be kind to other people. Our kindness can grow like a vine, from one person to another.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.“
We abide with God by showing kindness to others. We abide with God by taking care of the earth, and by taking the time to enjoy this lovely world. On Sunday Sue will remind us that we also abide in God when we take time to be silent, to spend time walking or sitting quietly – without talking. Talk to God, and pray for those who need prayers. New thoughts and ideas may come to you in those quiet moments when you take time to be still.
Sometimes you can pray by writing or drawing. As you are thinking about people you care about, family, friends, or friends from church, and thinking about who to pray for today, write their names on the branches of this Prayer Tree. Decorate their names and the tree with colored pencils or markers as you talk to God about them.
The scripture tells us that we are shaped by the words we hear, by the people we meet and by the things we do. It tells us that our lives will be good, and will bear good fruit, when we abide with our community, when we help them and become part of their lives. Each experience you have, every person you meet, and every act of kindness you give or receive will help you grow stronger and will help you understand the world a little better.
May the week ahead give you many chances to share your love and prayers with others.
You are blessed to be a blessing.