Remain in me
By Sharon Grussendorff
In this reflection we will explore the image of the vine and the branches from the passage in John 15. I invite you to read the passage through slowly for yourself before listening to the reflection:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, just as I remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. ...
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
After some time of quiet reflection on this scripture passage you can listen to the following talk on the theme of Remain in Me.
Length: 17 minutes
The following prayer will take you through a guided practice of this remaining:
Listen to the following song, Abide with me, written by Carrie Newcomer and Parker J. Palmer, and sung by Carrie Newcomer:
I will bring a cup of water, here's the best that I can offer
In the dusk of coming night, there is evidence of light
with the pattering of rain, let us bow as if in grace
consider all the ways we heal, and how a heart can break.
Oh abide with me, where it's breathless and it's empty
Yes, abide with me and we'll pass the evening gently
Stay awake with me and we'll listen more intently
to something wordless and remaining, sure and ever changing
In the quietness of now
Let us ponder the unknown, What is hidden and what is whole
and finally learn to travel at the speed of our own souls
there is living water, a spirit cutting through
always changing always making, all things new.
Oh, abide with me, ....
There are things I cannot prove, and still some how I know
It's like a message in a bottle that some unseen hand has thrown
you don't have to be afraid, you don't have to walk alone
I don't know but I suspect, that it will feel. like home.
Oh, abide with me, ....
For deeper reflection:
We can hear the invitation “Remain in me as I remain in you” as a riddle, a kind of zen koan that can challenge our ordinary thinking so that we open to a deeper knowing. How do we remain in the One who is already within us, who is already remaining in us? The invitation is to let go of our rational understanding and conceptual explanations, and to journey ever deeper into the experiential mystery of this inter-abiding.
I encourage you to carry this line with you as you go into your daily life, let the Spirit breathe life into it, and lead you into a new awareness of what this invitation is calling forth in you. Let something in you be evoked as you hear this verse with your whole being: “Remain in me as I remain in you.”
For creative exploration:
Christine Valters Paintner describes the use of contemplative photography as a way of deepening our prayer, or our engagement with a word or passage of scripture. She describes the practice in this way:
"Slowly shift your awareness to a sense of invitation or summoning which rises up from your prayer. How does the prayer stirring in you meet you in this particular moment of your life? How might you be called into a new awareness or kind of service through this experience? You might explore with your camera how gazing at this shimmering moment through the lens supports you in seeing it more deeply. The practice of contemplative photography is to “receive images as gifts” rather than to “take photos.” If you notice yourself grasping, put the camera down. But if the lens is helping you to see this moment from different perspectives, then the camera can be a great gift."
Spend some time with a camera, seeing of there are any images that shimmer for you in light of this passage about the vine and the branches, and the invitation to remain.
Lord we pray that as we become more deeply rooted and established in love,
we may have power, together with all of the people of your creation,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to become convinced of this love that surpasses rational knowledge—
that we may be filled to overflowing with your generous, outpouring abundance.
(Adapted from Ephesians 3:17-19)