EP: Psalms 29, 98; Isaiah 66:18-21; Romans 15:7-13
There have been times in my life, before I was ordained an Episcopal priest, that I wandered away from church and to some extent away from God. I can't blame it on youthful arrogance (although that did play a small part in the decision to wander into the desert of unbelief). And I can't sum up those reasons I choose to wander in one pithy sentence: there were an amalgam of reasons that led me to a number of years of absence from organized religion. I made it through that time relatively unscathed. I remember clearly there being an absence, a hole, in my life. I don't think I recognized it at the time, or could verbalize the emptiness at that time, but hindsight provides a different perspective.
The passage we have been given from John today is one of my favorites....I am the vine....Abide in me....Abide in my love....This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.... Such amazingly powerful words and images and commands. One that gets overlooked because of the power of these words is...Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
I have come to understand that the hole I felt when I was wandering was that I was out there alone. I was separated from the Body of Christ. Sure I was successful professionally and my personal life was going along okay, but there was something missing, an important part of who I am as one of God's own....I was missing the community that is the Body of Christ..... As annoying as people can be at times, as challenging as living in community can be, putting up with the foibles of all that it means to be human, there is also something deeply affecting to the soul that is missing when we separate ourselves from the Body of Christ. When we are apart, we are not whole.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.