It is a well-trodden path, the one that leads up to John 15.

The end in sight.

A Jesus in full sight, the consternation of a whole nation's faith on him

Standing with the ones who didn't understand Him but loved Him with all their hearts...

Regardless of what their actions may have said.

Then in mythical, magical, yet commonplace theater Jesus bends down and swabs the manure and dust from their caked feet.

Peter: No, don't stoop to that. Not for me.

Jesus: I didn't stoop. This is what it looks like to truly rise and reign.

Peter: Then reign all over me.

Jesus: This will do for now. We'll come back to this.

Jesus gives teaching then on love, on the Way, on the Spirit that will comfort them (did they wonder why they'd need comfort?) while he was gone (they started to understand that).

Then it comes, as calmly as a breeze yet as forceful as a gale.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5, ESV)

The quaking disciples, chilled through their clean wet feet, listened to what must have sounded like part symphony, part gibberish.

He's done this before. It's an illustration. He's good with agriculture.

But what does it mean to abide?

Next was unity, both with each other and with God. Then the slow fade towards the fateful Friday, castaway beyond the city gates - beyond purity, in the teeth of pagans and the unclean, suffering amongst enemies with helpless friends torn between staying and weeping or running like mad from that fate that surely hung in the background for them.

But what does it mean to abide?

Then the daylight cracking through clouds over a tomb cold and empty. A ghastly visitation, touching wounds, eating fish - all questions answered and new ones in their place. Will you restore Israel? Will you stay? Is it really you? Will we die?

But what does it mean to abide?

I step out of my house. Drop off the kiddo at school and head to the office. Emails and meetings and delicious conversations dripping from the calendar. Struggles, challenges and frustrations from being the chief of humans among humans. Sipping coffee and thinking about, well, about expectation. About Advent. About what could be if we all decided maybe Jesus was right and is worth shaping our life around.

About what could be and is and will be and how exactly to pull open the sleepily lids of a world far too overworked and weak from restlessness to the gift and vision above all self-imposed improvement projects. Carrying a Jeremiah-esque fire "shut up in my bones" that threatens me like it threatened Richard Rolle so many years ago - in such a way that Rolle had to feel his chest to see that he wasn't being consumed, I type and pray and read and try to lead from within and from behind.

I cross my legs and feel the stiffness in my neck. I think about my friend whose father almost died. I think about the marriage that nearly ended and the one that is facing the sheer, razor sharp precipice. I think about my friends of the second drink, the second longing look, and the seemingly unescapable cloak of shame that rests on them like wet wool in January. I straighten up. I think about my feet wet and cold from Jesus' regal bath, and I wonder.

When Jesus said "abide", what exactly did He mean? 

For me.

For those I carry.

For those I long to see enter into contentment & simplicity, silence & solitude, freedom and hope with every fiber of my being.

What did He mean for us?

What did you mean for us?

To die.

To rise.

To live as if.

To stay with me to learn to be like me.

Abide. Dwell. Remain. You are here. Let me wash your feet, teach you how to find unity, help you feel that Spirit that is me-in-breath sitting in your innards. Your splangchna. Your bowels. Let me lead you in the Way, not so that you can denigrate the other attempts at a Way, but so that you can live a vision bigger than those other ways.

Abide. Stay. Find out what I meant by doing what I asked.

I close the laptop and switch off the lights. Another day. I stay.

They left the extra room from the Passover meal, blew out the lamp. Another day. They stay.

Abide. Dwell. Remain.

Oh, so that's what He meant.

 

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