It must have been about lunch time in the smoke filled room where the Revised Common Lectionary was being decided when the lections for the next two Sunday’s were decided. There is no other reason that they would have selected essentially the same themes across all four lessons for both Sundays than hunger, right?
My rector just left my office having informed me that he was most likely going to steal part of next Sunday’s Gospel lesson for this Sunday. How can you blame him? It is a continuation of a story not done when we end the pericope this week; John 15:1-8 is not a complete thought without 9-17. The logical thing would have been to compare the love of 1-17 with the hate of 15:18-16:3. It must have been lunch time.
Or, perhaps (and I hate to give the RCL any sort of credit), maybe they are modeling in these two weeks the them they hope we will preach: abiding.
To abide is to remain, to stay; to live, to dwell; to last, to endure. It is something that, thanks to smartphones and tvs in every waiting room, we generally don’t do any more. We don’t abide, we don’t sojourn. Instead, we flitter about surfing the web, catching up on facebook, diving into twitter, reading, emailing, anything we can to not abide where we are. We do it in waiting rooms, in bathrooms, in living rooms, at the dinner table, and, to quote Paul, “I am the chief sinner.” When was the last time you were fully present, abiding in the place where God had put you? I’m not even doing it now. I’m watching my Father-in-Law’s flight status as heads north.
Jesus, John tells us, was the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. He pitched his tent and prepared to abide with us. He invites us to abide with him. To “set a spell.” To listen. To be present. Maybe the RCL, in splitting up this lection is inviting us to abide in John 15. To “set a spell” in the Acts question, “who should welcome?” To listen to the Psalmists hymns of praise. To be present to John’s love letter. Maybe they abided through lunch to figure that out. Maybe.