Monday, December 23, 2019

This Christmas, Abide in Him

(Together at the Gandy Dancer, in Ann Arbor)

A dying man's last words are said to be important.

I was in India, riding in the back seat of a car on a five hour ride from Hyderabad to Kurnool, on one of India's major highways. I could not sleep, even though I was jet-lag tired. India, by their own admission, leads the world in road deaths

I thought I was gong to die a hundred times or more on that trip! My driver was a crazed man in a land of psycho-drivers. He would routinely pass cars while going up a hill, or driving around a curve. Occasionally, he played "chicken" with an ongoing car, and sometimes with an oncoming truck. The game was to see who would "chicken out" first and swerve aside. This is beyond ridiculous, I thought, as my Indian friend and host slept soundly next to me through it all, as if this was the normal Christian life.

One time we passed a car going round a curve and came face to face with a truck. My driver swerved at the last moment. When I saw the truck coming at us, I said the following profound, almost-last-words-of-a-dead-man: "Oh no!" Had I died, whoever would do my funeral would have to say, "John the theologian's last words were, "Oh no!""

Jesus' Final Words, aka his "Final Discourse," were profound and continue to guide my life. We hear them in John, chapters fourteen through sixteen. 

The disciples are wondering what they will do when Jesus is gone. Jesus instructs them, and us.

He does not say, "Form some committees, and think of strategies to keep this thing going." He tells them: "Abide in me." 

Jesus says:  

Because I live, you also will live. 
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, 
and you are in me, 
and I am in you. 
(John 14:19-20) 

Call this "reciprocal abiding." 

God comes to make his home in the heart of every Jesus-follower. Every Jesus-follower is to tend this inner fire by making his home in Jesus like a branch connects to a Vine.

As we abide in Christ we...

Jesus' last teaching was:  

Connect. 

Attach.

Dwell. 

Remain. 

Abide. 

Slow-cook.

In Him. 

He lives, in and through you. 

Let us sing these words together. 

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell:
O, come to us
Abide with us
Our Lord, Emmanuel

MERRY CHRISTMAS!