Since my days in seminary, I have loved the word “abide.” I am partial to the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John where Jesus calls us to abide in him as he abides in us.
The relationship of vine and branches is a beautiful way of describing the depth of relationship that God seeks with us. When we rely on God, we produce good fruit. When we live closely connected to God, we can love the right and the good and hate the evil. In large part, this is because we will be intimately connected to God’s will and anointed to do that will in the world as is mentioned in our Psalm today.
Some days I feel anointed, some days I feel like I am pretty tightly connected to the vine, some days…
Many days I know that I am anointed, loved and set apart in the waters of my baptism and that Jesus abides in me, but I for my part I don’t always abide as I ought. But I think God understands that.
In the photo I used today in my photo a day blog; it is a picture from Washington Island again. It is a shot I took on the northwest corner of the island a few years back. The smaller stone is abiding in, the larger one, but the storms of life have caused it to swirl about and slam against the larger stone. But here is the beauty of abiding for me. The more that stone rocks, the more it chafes at its enclosure, the deeper it abides. The whole while the stone gets its hard edges knocked off and became smooth and beautiful.
I think there is a bit of that feeling in one of my favorite hymns, thanks to Dan Hansen I can sing the tenor or bass parts too. If you are trying to guess it likely you have… it is Abide with me. Read the words or check out the Youtube link for a pretty good version done by the Wartburg Choir (If my sister sees this I will never live it down!)
Abide with Me ELW 629
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour;
what but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, oh, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me!
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes,
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heav’n’s morning breaks,
and earth’s vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Text: Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847