Week 3 Day 2: Loving and Being Loved
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
Loving and Being Loved
When we abide in God, when we abide in Jesus, we can thrive, our Christian life thrives. But when we are cut off from Jesus, when we are broken from Jesus, then our Christian life can wither and die.
-Br. James Koester
This week in these videos we’re considering intimacy, the intimacy which Jesus had with the Father and which the Father had with Jesus. The question, I think, for us is how that intimacy might look for us. We’re looking specifically today at the verse, “As the father has loved me so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” That comes from the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John where Jesus uses the image of the vine and the branches.
I know a little bit about gardening. I know that vines can thrive separately. If a branch is cut off, the vine continues to thrive. But the branch will actually wither and die, and you can see that in all sorts of garden plants. When a branch is cut off, it dies, but the rest of the plant can be fine.
That metaphor, I think, is true for us. When we abide in God, when we abide in Jesus, we can thrive, our Christian life thrives. But when, for some reason or other, we are cut off from Jesus, when we are broken from Jesus, then like that branch, our Christian life can wither and die.
The question for us, I think, is, “How can we make our Christian life thrive? How can we abide in God’s love?” One of the ways that people do that is through the practice of having a “soul friend,” somebody that they can talk to about their friendship and relationship and intimacy with Jesus. I’m not talking about cornering somebody at work and trying to convince them to come to church. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m actually talking about sitting down over a cup of coffee or a cup of tea or something with somebody who’s also a fellow believer in Jesus and just taking the time to talk about my friendship with Jesus and to listen to them talk about their friendship with Jesus. In that we can both encourage and be encouraged, and our friendships with Jesus can be deepened. We can learn to abide in the love of the Father just as the branch abides in the vine.
In that way, I think, through this practice of “soul friends,” we can learn to become more intimate with God as we both share our experience of God and as we listen to another person, our soul friend, talk about their relationship with Jesus.
We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus
I am grateful for the mixed comments on how important it is ro share with others regarding our relationship with Jesus in this devotional. It allowed me to consider within my own heart what I share. Recently I went to a monastery and experienced great joy in silence
My personal thoughts made me realize that so often I share without really first saying, “Jesus, tell me what to say here”. That makes a huge difference. It occurred to me to be more intimate with Jesus before I share Him.
This came to me while sitting in on a class on the topic of Jewish mysticism. The Song of Songs is to Christians a metaphor for the relationship between Jesus and the church. Just how real is my intimacy with Jesus? He knows my every thought. I share those with him that are not so wise to share with others. He understands how I feel.
There was a murder in my hometown recently. I randomly ran into a sheriff brought into town after the fact for investigation. I sensed he was a very nice man. Prayed for healing in the town after our chance meeting. Deeply. Prayed for all those touched by the murder. Especially me. Jesus knows it was hard to deal with. The feelings I experienced after the fact were easy to express to Jesus
Not to others. Prayed about how to communicate with others and found that the monastery gave me insight. The rule of silence gives us an ability to communicate without words. When I met that sheriff I stood before him silent for a moment and felt his ????. I needed that communication.with him. We didn’t speak about Jesus as we looked at one another but we felt his presence.
“How can we make our Christian life thrive? How can we abide in God’s love?” I don’t have a soul mate, but I think it would be nice. It seems the people I talk to about my faith are in a different place than I am. We can listen to one another, but not agree or share the same thoughts. On the other hand some of the people I speak with are of different faiths and have different perspectives on how to express and carry on Jesus’ work. Looking at things with different eyes has helped me to see things from a different perspective too. I have a friend who is very Pentecostal, I am not. But listening to her helps me to be more evangelical, which is something I am working on.
The renewal process – through Bible Study, readings, discussions, worship, music, and more – all help in having a more thriving Christian life. By using our renewed spiritual self to go out into the world to do God’s work, helps us to abide in God’s love.
T hink about how to become more loved and
H ave a true relationship with Christ by
R elationships with each other
I nvite and listen
V alue our friendships
E ncourage and be encouraged among our
S oul friends
I had a recent experience of visiting with my “soul friend” who lives in a distant place. She led me home 38 years ago after I had strayed away from faith in God. I was amazed how renewed and energized I felt after being with her. It was like waking from a long sleep. I can’t recommend more strongly having someone you can be open and honest with in matters of faith. Someone can’t ever really “get me” unless they understand my walk with the Lord.
I too would like to thank the Brothers for this wonderful Lenten study.
The love that exists between people and things in the world has inherent imperfections, it can be selfish or greedy, it can suffer loss, it can be damaged and broken, it can end in disappointment and heartbreak, and though it cannot be bought or sold there are many who use it in a deceptive way to satisfy their arrogant desires or achieve their perverse ends. It has always been difficult for me to say, ‘I love you’ to another, and to mean it, – love is a difficult thing to describe or define, perhaps I did not fully understand love until you appeared in my life? But I know, as your Apostle Paul said, without it we are nothing. During our lives here in the world, love certainly sustains us all, but earthly love seems to cease at death – all that we have known, desired, wanted, cherished or held close – too soon dissipates and we are left with nothing. I have wondered, we have all pondered on whether love is sustained through death, we all ask that question. If only all of us could find such a treasure in this life… and yes, a few of us have found it.
Lord Jesus, I recall the fractured relationship that I had with my own father – after the divorce those cracks extended throughout our family, leaving us all broken, isolated and desperately lonely. We lost contact with each other, laughter, familiarity and our extended community withered and died. In latter days, inspired by your example, I tried to reach out and restore the dialog between my family… to take account, to express concern and love and bring some semblance of understanding through restoration and reconciliation. My own father died long ago – certainly loved, but not without some animosity… and to continue I knew I had to forgive both him and myself for cruel expressions that drove us apart. And, I felt that reconciliation, at least in the Spirit, enabled us to be at peace and provided hope for a brighter, more fulfilling future. Most of all, Lord Jesus, in humility, I ask for your forgiveness in all that I have said and done, and left undone – that my feelings of guilt, and shame, and regret may be washed away and be replaced with the concern and compassion for others that only true love can provide.
O Lord, the love of which you speak exceeds all expectations, it persists in all conditions, it is nourishing and restoring, constant and unremitting – an eternal well-spring that flows and invigorates, inspirational and delightful, more than enough to sustain us through all the losses and tragedies of our lives, an eternal power, a force of care and concern that guides us through darkness and despair… to the ultimate good, the beautiful and the true.
O Sacred Heart, you ask not only that I receive your love, your truth and healing in my life, but that I abide in you in love. You ask that I live within your tender compassion… to willingly and unreservedly submit, and allow love to saturate my being – and in so doing, to be indelibly and unconditionally converted and changed by it – transformed and reinvigorated by your light and love. I know that this will transform my perception in a new, a totally radical and revolutionary way. I see that you love is the sacred means by which we are all connected, a sweet and holy binding, a blissful communion between you, and I and the heavenly Father. You offer a wholesome bond that can never broke or loosed, a relationship in which your promise never to abandon us is true – we cannot ask for more than that because that is the totality of life itself.
O Blessed Savior, your love is given us without measure, overflowing – such that through and in your embrace, we all become truly living, breathing, an interconnected embodiment of your Divinity. Not merely a people sharing the same beliefs and faith, but a dynamic, spiritually active church of brothers and sisters – all children of God the Father, in communion with the Blessed Lord and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
I offer my sincere prayers for all the members of my family – Christine, Jim, Michael, my mother Margaret, Mick, Darren and Lisa, Kevin and his family, Irene and Jeffrey and his family, Maureen, Susan and John, – and all to whom I owe gratitude and respect for their part in striving to make the world a better place in which to live and love one another in faith. May the Lord bless them all with good health, prosperity and peace. – Amen.
Pax Christi – David.
What a lovely expression. Thank you
John 15:9 is saying to me:”As God the Father has loved Jesus, so Jesus loves us and wants us to stay connected/live in Jesus’ love.”
This loving connection brings each person the nourishment ( knowledge, guidance, forgiveness, strength, courage, etc) needed to be fully, vibrantly alive.
I am soul friends with a number of people, both who I see regularly and occasionally. Even though we share a common faith and enjoy discussions about faith and actions, it saddens me that my husband is not my “soul friend” in this sense. I gravitate towards a “feeling/abiding/quiet” side with Jesus, and he gravitates towards intellectual understanding and actions. Today’s reflection reminds me as I spend time with friends of shared or questioning faith, I can invite us to talk about our walk with Jesus incase they need that permission and invitation.
From yesterday’s reading: THE REAL RAT RACE…….FINDING THE DOOR
Has it been since November that I have written a Galbraiths Go Global? How is that possible, except during this time? In November, a need, a change started in my life. I didn’t know at the time, but It was there. As Advent began, what I didn’t realize, was that God was moving in our lives; creating that unsettling and uncomfortable certainty that HE is the Shepherd and we are His sheep.
For many years, one of my life prayers has been simple. Father open the doors that you intend to be open and slam closed the doors you want closed because I am too stupid, and will run towards every door you leave open. Like a proverbial 2×4, this morning’s insight is so very true.
During Advent, in an unguarded moment at a meeting, I used the metaphor of breaking a colt with keeping a willful animal’s spirit (mine) intact so the horse can participate in the future work that the team (the handler and the colt) need to accomplish. I was sharing mine and my family’s struggles to fit within our existent place. Those unguarded moments are many times the tincture, the essence of the truth. I couldn’t have been more wrong and yet so right at the same time.
Like in my prayer, we are sheep. Gentle, filthy, too stupid to be able to find food or regulate our future plan. “Who we are, as beautiful as we are, we’re also a bit of a mess, defenseless, finding life overwhelming, which God knows and God loves.” -Br. Curtis Almquist: Society of St. John the Evangelist, Meeting Jesus, Lent Week 3 day 1: Knowing and being Known.
Unlike sheep, though, humans have free will. Because of the constantly shifting vortex of our lives (READ: The Human Rat Race HERE) I must make sure my compass is pointed to Father, my shepherd. As if lost on a storm, it is for me to consult my inner compass; and with intention, check the compass, always re-calibrate. I am who I am; essentially too clueless and plodding to think very far ahead into my actions. I can only make the best decision I make day by day and act with my own essential integrity. Intentional or unintentional, it is not for me to decide how my actions, and thereby I am perceived or judged.
Lent…Shoulda…Why or Why not?…Woulda…Why didn’t you?…Coulda… What else?…These are the normal human thoughts. But as Millman says in Peaceful Warrior, “The mind is just a reflex organ. It reacts to everything. Fills your head with millions of random thoughts a day. None of those thoughts reveal any more about you than a freckle does at the end of your nose.”
In 2011, Galbraiths Go Global journey began as an exploration of life outside the Rat Race. What if the Rat Race was actually my own creation, my own perception blinders over my very human and sheep-like eyes? I was once taught, “We are meaning making machines and can do no other.” Here is where I will remind myself of that fact.
Advent and Lent, like bookends they define a human time. I can only begin to chuckle. Thank you, Father Shepherd, for the tiny sliver of insight and light into this time. This part of mine and my family’s life journey is bracketed by Advent and April 1, Easter.
Remember, “The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.” (Millman) Come and laugh with us on this roller coaster journey. It’s an adventure.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” John 15:9 Loving and Being Loved- When we abide in God, when we abide in Jesus, we can thrive, our Christian life thrives. But when we are cut off from Jesus, when we are broken from Jesus, then our Christian life can wither and die.-Br. James Koester
I am mindful of the image of a nursery tree in the forests of the Pacific North West … often cedar trees….where saplings are nourished by a decaying old tree stump. There is abundant microscopic life & nourishment in decay. Life is nourished in death & really matter is neither created nor destroyed but is always in a dynamic change of form or being or becoming.
Soul friends …. I have been more intimate at times with some people …& then the evolving dynamic of change in us for one reason or another…has resulted in us moving on our separate ways for a while & then events or serendipity has put us together again…& we may go into a deeper intimacy…or we may never see each other again. I am learning not to suffer from “separation anxiety” so much & just let people go & let them be….& appreciate all kinds of depths of connecting…be it the comfort of familiarity with a regular commuter on the bus we share or a familiar friendly shop vendor…or the deeper connection with spiritual sojourners in a contemplative prayer group. I have gone on retreats within the Gulf Islands or meeting in monthly centering prayer groups or connected with self help support groups facing challenging health issues or social justice issues. Then there is the mitigation of loneliness in connecting casually at Friendship Cafe’s or assisting with Food Security delivery to the vulnerable & marginalized …. especially when I perceive myself sometimes to be vulnerable & marginalized! I am currently enjoying the light camaraderie in singing pop music in a seniors choir, participating in walking groups, bus tours & exercise groups. I also enjoy the meditative focus in solitary swimming…highlighted with sunny lengths in the refreshing Pacific Coast outdoors around Kitsilano pool.
I also like to explore diverse sacred space & at times find myself more called to Compline when I feel more introspective & withdrawn when I am licking my inner spiritual wounds; or drawn to lighter “Jazz Vespers”; or profound sacred music in Choral Eucharist; or more the arid simplicity of an 8 am Eucharist with gorgeous Shakespearean language from the Book of Common Prayer; or the eclectic experimentation & innovation in a more fluid, participatory, inclusive liturgy at 5:30 pm St Brigid’s. There is a time & a season. I am blessed with a rich template & tapestry of many spiritual “soul” practises & traditions in the Christian community.
Dianne you are a beautiful gem. The arid simplicity of an 8 am Eucharist. My favourite service.
For decades I faithfully practiced yoga, meditation and prayers of petition and thanksgiving upon rising. At some point, my “to-do-list” prodded me from the bed into action, abandoning time to nurture body and spirit. Physical aches, reduced flexibility in body and spirit followed. Thankfully, God kept pulling me back to relationship with the Holy Trinity. Having recently retired from work, yoga, meditation and prayer are first in my mornings again. A sense of physical and spiritual well being are the result. This video series is further fertilizer for spiritual renewal. The readings, questions, time to reflect and write, read comments and thoughts of others, and comment if I wish; these are such a blessing. Thank you!
I like the term Soul Friend. I have long agreed with the basic thought, so I may use that term myself someday. Now please allow me to expand upon that a bit. Add a few more people to the mix. My spiritual meanderings have taught me that a small group of like-minded, spiritual friends, gathered together in intimate, thoughtfully spiritual conversation, intermingling their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, is a very powerful thing, indeed. In fact, this is what I consider to truly be “Church”. If you can really be open to it, you can really feel the Presence of The Holy Spirit right there in the space where you are seated. It’s a much more enriching experience than what one usually gets from the formal, ritualized gatherings which most folks generally call “church”. It’s true communication, often truly passionate, about deep, intimate and spiritual feelings. It’s so very powerful, and if you’re open to it, it can change your life.
Abide is an interesting word that’s rather passive in its current definition: to be in accordance with or to tolerate. To me it says we need to show up in Jesus’ love without an agenda.
The idea of a soul friend is a bit more challenging. I was so wounded by Jesus talk, and lost many childhood friends in tragic young deaths caused in part by Jesus talk that was toxic and judging thoughts and projections on Jesus. Now I seek to be wounded with Jesus’ compassion and energy and to celebrate all things made new, not in heaven but here and now.
Despite the extensive disussion in Week 1/Day 1, I’m still wrestling with “abide.” Dictionary synonyms include “obey”, “accept”, “acknowledge”, “tolerate”, “stay”.
When I sing “Abide with me …”, am I asking God to “reside” in me? Going the other way, what does it mean for me “to abide in” God or Christ?
“Abide” is a word which pulls me to a slower time, a slower place. It is a word that, to my mind, is an invitation to intimacy., I rather feel that to abide with Jesus is to hold hands and walk quietly and share the deepest of feelings.
Soul-mate friendship in Christ is a treasured thing. For 26 years I have been married to a wonderful man who happens to be Jewish. One of the many things I love about him is he respects and gets my deep desire for a personal connection with a few gal-friends who are Christian. Also, I totally get his deep friendships with a few Jewish men who are our close friends and I see how deeply they understand where my husband is coming from. It is a good thing. Friends of all persuasions are necessary in a loving balanced life — though I can count on my ‘soul’ mates to pray with me and to understand why that is so important to me.
My soul friends are the people in my Cursillo Group. We are blessed to meet together each week, and blessed to have found each other, all of us living in a continuing care facility.
Thank you, Brother James. I am glad for your love of gardening and for you love of connection… with Jesus, who connects us with God through the Spirit, with your SSJE brothers, with the Fellowship of St John, and with all of the Body of Christ and the world. I am also glad for you recommendation of soul friending. We have a small community of long term commitment in our parish. One of our reasons for existence is group soul friending.
I have a soul mate and soul friend in my wife Jo-Anne whom God has graciously placed in my life. And for this, I am truly thankful everyday of my life. Thank-you Lord!
We love because God first loved us. Our love from God allows us entrance into Jesus’ abundant grace and our love for Jesus gives us everlasting life from God. Everywhere I look as I lift my eyes to the Lord, I find love. If we abide with Christ He will abide with us and God will accept us into his family and as an heir to His bountiful glory.
Thinking about intimacy as the focus of this week’s meditations I would like to say how incredibly wonderful this series is for me and to thank all of you for giving us this gift. I am new to SSJE but I feel I am getting to know you in a more intimate way when I not only read your messages but actually hear your individual voices, see your individual styles, and connect with our shared drawing near to Christ. I wish there was some way we could do the same for you beyond our written responses.
My soul friend is my sister. Everytime we visit we usually sit far into the night sharing how our journey with Christ is going, what is happening in our life in the Spirit, and how God’s love continues to sustain us. I am blessed to have such a sister!
Thank you, Brothers, for your presence. You are in my prayers daily.
I, too, have a soul friend. My sister and I talk almost everyday. Both of us know our Lord and serve Him as best we know, not always in perfect agreement, but always in love. I also love my companions in Bible Study and my dear fellow worshipers in church. I am truly blessed! Thank you for this good homily.
May God grant me the love, grace and truth to always be connected to God, the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I have an amazing “soul friend” in my Cursillo mentor. She and I share our God moments: when we have no doubt that God has clearly spoken to us. Usually in response to a question or difficult feeling we are grappling with. We mutually offer this encouragement. I have certainly experienced a deepening of my faith. This relationship has been so important to me, especially through the recent difficult times.
About a year ago my spiritual director suggested that I find someone else to meet with, because he was getting to old to continue. To whom should I turn? I realize that I get a lot of insight and many suggestions from the publications of SSJE as an associate, but retreats and regular meetings with them are not possible for me due to my travel limitations. I thought long and hard about some local candidates, but decided that they would not be good “fits.” Then I thought about a woman to whom I have been bringing Eucharist every month for years. She is Roman Catholic who gets almost no pastoral care from her own church because of the priest shortage; she is a diabetic amputee and housebound. And yet the best spiritual conversations I have had in the past few years have been with her. I can — and do! — share anything and everything with her. We have the same outrageous sense of humor and many similarities in background. Voila! I already have a “soul friend.”
I think I need a soul friend. Maybe Jesus, God will show me one. In some ways these messages and responses have been that for me! God bless the Brothers and all the other faithful witnesses who have responded.
Thankfully, gratefully…my husband is my soul friend and we have this conversation almost daily.
Thank you JDS for reminding us of the constancy of the other sides of our spiritaul relationship with the Holy Trinty.
I find that “soul friends” are hard to establish and I am too reserved to engage in “group soul therapy”. When I have engaged with someone I trust, it is interesting how the conversation leaves the theological and becomes downright “earthy”, “practical” and even a touch “heretical”. I think my main “soul friend” is Mother Nature ( I first mis-typed Nurture!) herself. For this reason I am writing a daily haiku as part of my Lenten journey.
Perhaps the earthiness of a soul friend is what you need. Jesus, never was shy about earthiness. We are dirt, I do believe, our life is a buildup to becoming more dirt. Mother Nurture, is an embracing soul feeding experience. I wonder if it is good to use her to distance from others. Remember the cut off branch?
You may want to consider having a Spiritual Director. The title Director is a misnomer — having this relationship with someone is more like having a spiritual companion. You can find a list of SD in your area at Spiritual Directors International.
I had a great soul friend dinner last night at my house. We did some of the SSJE reflections on the Meeting Jesus series and found it to be incredibly nourishing and enriching. God bless you for your work you do in opening peoples spiritual doors day by day.
I would echo idea of a spiritual director. I have been working with one for several years. In many ways it “saved my life”.
Responding to Brother James’ very thoughtful meditation, I would like to expand his vision. First, “when we are broken with Jesus” (with God) our Christian life can indeed “wither and die”; however, the withering and death is only in our half of the relationship. Jesus, God, always keeps His relationship with us. I have been through several periods in my life of 89 years when my relationship has withered and, at least in my mind, died; however, happily, Jesus, God, never gave up the relationship. Eventually, I was, by His grace, brought back into the relationship. Regarding “soul friends, in my experience, they are not limited to “fellow believers”. My soul friends have included agnostics, perhaps they were atheists, with whom I could talk and to whom I could listen. From them, my faith has received the needed nurturing. Indeed, I count one such friend, and have told him, a spiritual advisor. As always my gratitude to Brother James, to all the Brothers, and to all the blessed company taking part in “Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John”. Keith, I share your desire that “May we be so at ease to be likewise open to God.”. Thank you!
You made many valid points, Like you, I think when one has a pause with their relationship with God, Jesus, it is the grace of God, Jesus that continues the relationship. When we pause that may be the time when one needs Him the most. And I too believe that it is the grace of our Lord that forgives with a soft heart and embraces us with love that we earthlings do not yet know….that love, that love that we will experience when we meet our savior in the next life, is so strong and bright that we are unable to receive it in this life on earth. I too have many friends that have very different points of view regarding God, Jesus and yet they touch my soul that others do not. My friends that do have an intimate relationship with God do fill me in another way when we do discuss our respective relationship with God, Jesus. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
My mother is soon to be 91 and is quite snappy. She has cancer and was told over four weeks ago that she only had three to four weeks to live . Spending time with her at this time has been very tender and special. I see something in her that I missed before. Her wisdom…the subtly and peace of her wisdom is ……I think maybe it is just intimacy….John your comments spoke to my heart as well as my experiences.
Thank you for sharing that beautiful comment. It is cyclical – which leaves room for the wither and die experience, only to be blessed by resurrection and new life.
This is a wonderful meditation. Thank you to Brother James.
HI Rhonda Here from Victoria BC
Thank you for your wise comments. After reflecting on your words, I agree, when “we” lose our way, God is
always there to help us get back on track. With that said, we also must want to. I don’t read the newspaper because it is always doom and gloom, even if something wonderful had happened. I feel hearing and seeing this doom plays a factor in us getting on the wrong track. Thank you all for your help and support as we move forward on our spiritual journey.
Thanks! Very insightful and practical.
I went recently to see some friends of mine, both in their mid eighties, whom I’ve known for over forty years. We chatted about our faith and it was a very special time. It was real communication.
May we be so at ease to be likewise open to God.
Keith, my husband and I visited with a couple in the U K whom we knew through Frances and Clay.
Am wondering if that could be you. This was in the 90’s.
Beautiful. This message resonates with me.
Dear Brother, don’t be offended but I really struggled with the idea of a soul friend. In fact I pretty well dismissed the suggestion. I spent much of today looking into “Abiding.” Later I came back to revisit, and read the comments of my fellow travelers. I found them helpful, and lead to a change of change of heart somewhat. Thank you, Richard