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The Lord Abides

The Lord Abides

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – 2 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)

Exodus 15:22-16:10

1 Peter 2:1-10

John 15:1-11

Thanks to the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski,” the word “abides” has some currency as a spiritual orientation in the contemporary world. Although not a box-office success, the film is a “cult classic” in the fullest sense. It’s main character (“the Dude”) and his most famous line (“The Dude abides”) have inspired a community that follows a spiritual approach to life known as Dudeism. One leader wrote a book called “The Abide Guide,” which offers its readers “salvation from this stressed-out, uptight world.”

I’m not among the reported 150,000+ Dudeist priests, but I think that the phrase “the Dude abides” is meant to express a spirit that can weather the ups and downs of life–or the strikes and gutters of life, to use the film’s bowling imagery. Yet “abiding” in the film also implies a dimension of life that transcends the limits of our own mortality–a life that goes on in the form of offspring or of one’s spiritual legacy. When the Dude repeats his signature line, “The Dude abides,” toward the end of the film, a mysterious cowboy looks straight into the camera and tells us, “I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that.”

Our gospel this morning also helps us cultivate a spirit of abiding. Jesus’ image of abiding isn’t only about salvation from stress and uptightness, although we may experience some relief from these symptoms in Christ’s presence. Jesus says, “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.” In other words, we have a deep need for abiding, whether we realize it or not. The gospel invites us to discover strength, fruitfulness, and enduring life by connecting to a source that is stronger than our individual wills, that makes us more capable of goodness, and that knits us into an everlasting vine.

How do we, the branches, abide in this vine? Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” By opening ourselves to Jesus’ loving heart, and by keeping Jesus’ commandment to love one another as he has loved us, we can continue to abide in the most life-giving source of the universe, now and forever.

Will we find time today to simply abide in the love that God has shown us through the person of Christ, or in the people God has given us to love and be loved by? If we find time to abide in the vine, let’s remember that we abide not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of bearing fruit. Clearly we live in a world that longs to know the comfort and freedom of people who know how to abide.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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