“All One in Christ”(Part 6) – “Daring to Abide” by the Revd Dr Ayla Lepine
Abiding is hard.
Many find themselves prayerfully staying anchored, somehow, within the turmoil of situations that cause distress or harm.
How is the genuine fruitfulness of real freedom for every human being, in all diversity, to be won? How can the Church truthfully say we are all one Body in Christ when some of our members are in deep pain and those who would be part of the Body find that there are places in the Church that actively resist and injure them? An Ash Wednesday hymn gives me great hope: ‘naught I fear when I abide in thy heart and wounded side.’
‘Abide’ has multiple meanings.
When we say that we ‘cannot abide’ something, it suggests a sharp lack of toleration, and being on the point of abandoning or rejecting a course of action or a situation.
As a Christian, I commit each day, especially in Lent, to a different kind of abiding. I abide with Jesus. I seek signs of hope. I long for what St Augustine describes as obedience to God that leads to ‘perfect freedom.’
The quality of abiding that Jesus offers in John’s Gospel is the deepest possible experience of indwelling. Jesus asks us to rest with him, stay with him, and go beyond ‘come sit by me’ to ‘we are all one.’ We cannot grow unless we trust that Jesus is the source of that growth. Trusting that Jesus abides with us teaches us to love ourselves.
Without love, we’re nothing. As children of God, the truth of our LGBTI lives is a gift to be celebrated.
In the Ordinal, candidates for ordination are reminded that they cannot do anything in their own strength. Jesus is calling to us – lay and ordained – to abide. Through him, we can be truly free, and genuinely fruitful.
But only if we dare to abide in him.
Gracious God, grant us the wisdom and humility to abide in you as you abide in us. Grant us hearts, minds, and hands that are truly open so that the fruit we bear in obedience to you will lead to true freedom.
The Revd Dr Ayla Lepine moved from Canada to the UK in 2003. Her PhD in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art focused on the Gothic Revival and Anglicanism, and prior to ordination she was a Lecturer in Art History at the University of Essex. She is a Trustee of Art and Christianity, and is the Assistant Curate at Hampstead Parish Church in the Diocese of London.
Next week – A series of reflections on “Created in God’s Image”