Easter is a season, not just a day. It lasts 50 days and ends on Pentecost. It is intended to be a long period of time to contemplate the resurrection. The fact that Jesus was dead and then came alive again is a mindblower. Unfortunately, it is also mind numbing. We, most of us, grew up with Jesus stories and rising from the dead was part of the narrative. We have heard it, so the old "been there, done that" kicks in. I have celebrated Easter with a serious mind and heart almost fifty times. It is not new and it is hard to pretend it is. On the other hand, I have not enterred the mystery as deeply as I need to. More and more I realize that there is a difference between believing that Jesus rose and believing in the resurrection of Jesus. In the latter sense I mean trusting Him and opening up to the life transforming power. Too often it is an intellectual exercise.
As always, the daily Morning Prayer reading is a good place to start. It is taken from John 15, which is part of the long Last Supper discourse. Jesus says, "I am the vine and my Father is the vinegrower... Those who abide in Me will bear much fruit." I want to focus on abiding.
The term meno (from which we get the English word remain) means to abide or stay (or to remain, to wait, to tarry, to be present, to not perish, to continue). The other three Gospels use it sparingly (3+2+6 for 11 total) while John uses it over thirty times, including eight times in chapter fifteen alone! The first use is found in John 1 when the two young men (Andrew and some other guy) are first following Jesus. The first chapter of John reappears with frequency in the last chapters, as certain themes are reiterated and emphasized. The men who followed Jesus were asked by Him, "What are you seeking?" and their response is "Rabbi where do you stay?" Stay is meno. It is a multi-layered word in John's Gospel. The literal question, "where is your house?" hides the deeper theological question. We understand the true meaning later. Jesus abides in God/Father and the Father abides in Him. Now we have another dimension. The relationship of Jesus to the Father is conveyed to us, He abides in us and we in Him. The same way Jesus relates to the Father He relates to us. Once you grasp that reality, it means you never ask a question about salvation outside of Jesus. Jesus is God + Man in one convenient location. Encounter with God means encounter with Jesus.
Producing fruit is our reason for being. Jesus says God prunes the branches and throws away that which does not produce fruit. So, no fruit means fire (another multi-valent word). It takes little creativity to put together that we are judged, in part, by our fruits. Such a concept may be terrifying, but let's think a moment. How does a branch produce fruit? What does a branch have to do to make fruit grow?
It has to hold on. If you are connected to the vine and there is correct flow of all the vine has in it, the fruit will just pop up. It works automatically. If we abide in Jesus and He abides in us, there will be fruit. Lots of it. It will just happen. There is no strain in making fruit, the strain is in abiding.
Time in prayer. Time in love. Time clarifying our thinking. Time trusting and hoping. As we clear out all that is anti-Christ in our lives and open to all that is godly and holy, the abiding deepens. My hope is to get better at living it and more effectively communicate what it looks like in the days ahead. For now, I can tell you, a major component is thanks. Spend lots of time in awareness with gratitude. People who are greatful and open to God are going to abide in God. And there will be fruit!