Now, to Abide
“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.” – John 15:4 (NRSV)
Abide. Just about the only time you hear that word these days is in church. Hardly ever in daily speech. As Dean Lueking once observed, “Baseball announcers never sum up an inning by saying ‘A hit, a walk, and two men abiding on base.’ Motel signs don’t invite you to ‘Abide with us tonight.’” The word belongs to other times.
And yet “abide” might just be the saving word for this age of rupture. So much discarded duty, so many abandoned promises, human ties frayed tissue-thin. No one stays. It’s turn and walk away through the wreckage of lies. To continue, to hang in, to last, to stick, to abide is rare. No wonder the word has all but disappeared.
Except on the lips of Jesus, where it remains, steady and resilient, promise and presence through thick and thin, faithful belonging through cross and grave.
A precious word, abide, first risked on Judas, Peter, and the rest, at supper on that night. The night they betrayed, abandoned, and denied. The night they did not stay.
But he did. He remained, for them, with them, in them, no matter what. Early in the morning and late into the evening he sought them. A new world, a new day.
Unhinged powers will always do their worst, but they won’t abide. They don’t last. Now, Jesus says. Now, to bear fruit. Now, to leaven the world with steadiness. Now, to abide.
Living Christ, abide in us. May your abiding make ours possible. Help us to remain, to last and outlast wrong, until the fruit we bear by your grace repairs this broken world.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.