sanctuaryI am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in me.

As I slipped into the Sanctuary during the 11:00 a.m. service yesterday after settling our new worship care volunteers into their new roles and responsibilities, I nestled into a wooden pew a few rows back from the front. I’d been in a role of observation and anticipating needs all weekend as my youngest sibling, my little brother, was married on Saturday evening. And so the practice continued as I leaned back into the familiar shape of the wooden pew.

As I lifted my head, I noticed the change of the season. For hanging above the choir loft, in shades of green and red-orange and purple, I read the words that appear each September. I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in me.


It struck me in that moment that I was experiencing a sort of life whiplash. In moving from a grand life marker and celebration for our family to the familiar rhythms and routines of Sunday morning to greeting volunteers taking on new roles and responsibilities, I found myself a jumbled mixture of grateful beyond measure, exhausted, and frustrated. Frustrated for as I listened and sang and so desperately wanted to singularly focus on the present moment, my thoughts kept jumping around like a ball in a pinball machine. I flitted back to the weekend’s festivities. And then to my gratitude for volunteers who say yes to roles they know will challenge them in new ways. And just as quickly I was back in the pew, thinking of the potential and the hope for Highland in the coming weeks and months as we look to embrace a new Sunday morning rhythm and explore what it might look like to renovate aging spaces for our children and youth.

Without the time to process intentionally and quietly, I wished for the penseive in the world of Harry Potter to capture my memories in a tear and save them for later. To come back to them. To dwell in them. To carefully think through each piece and tuck it away for safe-keeping.

And then I saw the word again.


Instead of abiding when I got home, had time to rest, and stare at photos, I realized that I was abiding. Right here in the pew. With the jumbled, racing processing of my days.

For abiding in the present moment also means abiding in the tension and the reality that each of us bring our divided minds to our Sunday rhythms and routines of worship and study. Whether it’s the chaos of getting the kids out of the house and having lost the car keys, to the anticipation of a new child entering your family, to the desire for a child that you aren’t sure will ever come to be, to the frustration over your job or the loss of said job, or the grief that you carry with you because of chronic illnesses that seem to come in so many shapes and forms these days, to the tending and caring of an elderly parent or of a person you deeply love who is in the hospital, we bring our whole selves wherever our days take us. Even in our community of faith, we bring our joys and hopes for the future while recognizing the reality that change is hard and requires great courage.

Our lives exist in the beauty and the pain and the everyday. Few moments are only one or the other. Woven in and around and through that beauty and pain and everyday, we find the God of transforming love creating intersections, weaving together the seemingly disparate strands of our lives and from them creating a whole. And it is in the tension of those moments—where we wish we could tease them apart and only exist in one of them, and ultimately find that we cannot—that we find ourselves in the sacred space of abiding with God, and God with us.

I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in me.