Last Sunday was a bit difficult for me. The
gospel was from John and was the passage in which Jesus declares that he
is the true vine. Abide in me as I abide in you, he says. It is Fr.
Rob's favorite passage of scripture. And somehow it didn't seem right
hearing it without him here to enjoy it. And then we sang Fr. Rob's
wonderful song "Abide in Me." I could hardly get the words out. It is
such a beautiful song and perfect for the day's gospel. But boy, was it
difficult to choke out the words. I am so grateful to have experienced
this gospel and that song for so many years alongside such a wonderful
and creative priest. Thank you Fr. Rob for that gift!
In the sermon, we heard that Jesus' whole
ministry was about sharing what the true blueprint for life is. He
taught that the ultimate reality is what he called the Kingdom of God.
The world has other ideas about what the true blueprint for life is. One
license plate holder read "He who dies with the most toys wins." But
Jesus declared that the blueprint is the Kingdom of God. It is the
foundation upon which everything else rests. It includes gathering the
lost, lifting up the lowly, and filling the hungry with good things. The
power in the Kingdom of God is not expressed in violence or force
but in growth and transformation and servant love.
Not only do we live and move and have our being
in this Kingdom, but the Kingdom lives and moves and has its being in
us. That's what Jesus is teaching about in this gospel. The Kingdom is
about intimate relationship with God. We are shoots on a vine which, if
continually nourished by sap will grow into a larger branch and bear
fruit. We are nourished by the sap, which is the Spirit. And when we are
attached we produce fruit. Paul tells us what those fruits are: Love,
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and
self control. If we are not attached to the vine we are powerless to
produce any of them.
heard the story of the native from a remote mountain village who
discovered that though he had purchased lights for his community after a
visit to a city, they did not work just by turning on the switch at
night. They needed to be plugged in to a power source. Then we
heard the true story of 6 year old Ruby Bridges an African American girl
in New Orleans who lived through the taunts and racial slurs of the
whole city when she was selected as one of three girls to attend a white
school during desegregation. We identified the fruits of the Spirit in her actions as we heard how she met this challenge with grace.
Finally we were given the image of a book of
coupons for restaurants sold as a fundraiser for the local schools. On
each coupon are the words "Not Good if Detached" When we are not feeling
so joyful, peaceful, patient or kind, when anxiety overcomes us or we
don't seem to be doing anything meaningful or effective with our lives,
that might be a good phrase to repeat to ourselves...Not Good if
Detached. Detached we are powerless. That's the way the world was
designed to work. That's the way we are designed to work. That's the
blueprint for life. Stop struggling. You are not good if detached!
Blessings and much love,