Before COVID-19 (BC), I helped a (use-to-be-good) friend do some serious yard work. Their backyard was a mess and needed to be cleaned out, tended and landscaped.  I can honestly say it was one of the most miserable tasks I’ve ever experienced. The fence line was full of smilax or perhaps you know it as greenbrier, also called catbrier, sarsaparilla vine, prickly-ivy, bull brier, deer thorns, and hog brier. (I had to look that up.)  These vines are native and have prominent thorns growing throughout the stems. It is a painful vine to work with. Stems grow over 20 feet with sharp thorns up to 1/4 inch long. We cut and pulled and pulled and cut. It took multiple hours to get it cleaned out but we succeeded.
But there was more, much more. Potato vines covered the yard.  Potato vines are an invasive twining vine, large leafed that spread tenaciously, shading out native plants.  They are considered noxious – which is short for obnoxious because it’s a weed and the only way to get rid of them is to dig up the bulbs (which look like potatoes) and toss them into the trash.  I heard Peggy Collins’ voice saying to me, “You should throw the potato bulbs into the household trash rather than the yard debris.” We filled a container and I went home exhausted and most importantly, committed not to answer any more calls from that friend.
As I sat with this not too distant experience and in a thin moment, I was drawn into the text where Jesus says: “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” I wondered – what does it mean when Jesus says: “Abide in me as I abide in you” particularly as we remain at “arm’s length” – distant, isolated and literally feeling out of touch? After a bit of quiet, the question, “How do we abide with each other?”, shifted to, “How are you abiding with each other?”  Because when we are abiding with one another, Christ is present abiding with us.
We invite you to receive the reminder that Christ abides in you, nourishing your heart, head and body with the sustenance to journey toward excellent living.  Make this day meaningful and fruitful.

Scripture Reading: John 15:4-5
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Reflection Questions:
What was your “worse, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” task that you undertook for a friend?
How is Jesus abiding in your life?
What are the best ways to abide with others?

Prayer: Holy God, I am mindful of your presence and grateful of your closeness.  Keep me committed to remain attached to the people in my path and remind me of all I can do because of you. Amen.

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