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Sharing God's Love and Word Within and Beyond Calvary

Sermon May 2 2021

Easter 5 B 2021 Abide With Me

John 15:1-8


Alleluia!  Christ Is Risen!  Christ is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! 

The hymn “Abide With Me” is a favorite hymn to be sung at funerals.  I think the reason for this is because the hymn provides a sense of peace and security.  And people like the line “Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?  I triumph still, if thou abide with me!” 

But the Hymn, “Abide with me” is not just talking about the end of our lives in God’s good creation, but about all the evening times that occur in our lives.  The hymn provides comfort and reassurance when things are not going well, and when we are weak and vulnerable and alone. 

Maybe you are only 20, and the college exams and papers have you in a panic.  Maybe you are 35, and the vocation that you had planned for your life is no longer meaningful and fulfilling.  Maybe you are 45, and you find yourself having to cope with your parent’s health issues.  

Maybe you are 65, and you want to retire but financially you cannot, and you feel boxed in.  Maybe you are 75, and you are facing health issues or a spouse with dementia.     

No matter how old we are, and no matter what stage of life we are in, there are times when we feel vulnerable, and weak, and afraid.  And the cruel thing about it is that it feels its worst in the middle of a sleepless night. 

And so, the question that we face is this “Does God really abide with us?”  And the answer is “YES.”  Yes, God does abide with us.  In our Gospel text today, Jesus said “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.”  And the Good News is that right from the beginning of time God desired to abide with us. 

The Greek word for abide is “meno” which means to remain in, or to not depart from.”  So, when Jesus tells us to abide in Him, we are to remain in Him and not depart from Him.  But the word means more than just to remain with Jesus.  The word abide is close to the English word “abode” which means dwelling place or the place where we live. 

If we abide in Christ, Christ is present in our homes and in our lives and in our everyday activity.  Just look at the description Jesus provides for us today.  The image Jesus provides today is one of a living, growing, intertwining grapevine.  “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.”  

What a wonderful image.  Jesus is the root and main vine, and we are the branches that shoot out in all directions with all our gifts and differences and diversities and interests. 

You are a branch on Christ’s vine.  You are free to grow and move and do as you please, as long as you are attached to the vine.  But remember this, Jesus may also prune you once in a while to help you grow and mature and become strong and flourish. 

Yes, we may have a rough year of growth once in a while.  This past year has been difficult.  But it is all part of the ebb and flow of life.  The rhythm of life with Jesus, attached to the vine, growing in grace, receiving God’s gifts of forgiveness and mercy, but also being pruned is all done for the purpose of bearing good fruit.

Therefore, no matter what happens, do not be afraid.  You are attached to Jesus the vine.  Go, and stretch out, grow, and flourish.  You are safe and secure when you are attached to the vine. 

And remember this, Jesus knew we would all face difficult times even when we are attached to the vine.  But Jesus also knew that in sadness, He would be our abiding joy.  In disappointments, he would be our abiding hope.  In suffering, he would be our abiding grace.  In sickness, he would be our abiding health.  In poverty, He would be our abiding treasure.  In death, he would be our abiding life.  Jesus knew that nothing can disturb us when we abide in Him. 

In a few minutes we will sing “Abide with Me.”  As we sing the hymn take note of verse four which states “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.” 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Christ’s love and grace and forgiveness and strength and peace are flowing to you in a never-ending supply. Christ abides in you.  Christ abides in me.  There is life on the vine.  May this be our constant prayer – “in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” 

Alleluia!  Christ Is Risen!  Christ is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! 

Let us pray:  God of might and mercy, you bring us to new life each day, and nurture us in your tender love.  Keep us attached to your life-saving vine, so that we may find strength in the cross of Christ and be filled with your peace now and forever.  Amen.