Readings for the 6th Sunday of Easter: Acts 10.44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5.1-6; John 15.9-17
The Truman Story is a film from 1998 about a young man abiding in a reality TV show, and his encounter with the boundaries of his existence.
To abide, using the Greek word in its basic sense, is to remain, to continue. Jesus invites his followers to abide in his love – but in reality, it’s about remaining, continuing in a state that they – and we – already occupy.
Abiding in Jesus’ love may at first glance seem comforting, especially if we were raised with an idea of “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” In reality, a quick reading of the gospel will uncover a Jesus who is challenging, disturbing, abrasive, confrontational and shocking. And “abide in me as I abide in you” is reciprocal, inviting us to share in all of this. Disciples are not expected to be inactive! There are many examples of people who responded to the challenge to let the love of Christ abide in them and be seen in action.
Irena Sadler was a German living in Poland who placed her life at risk to rescue 2500 babies and children from the Warsaw ghetto. She was caught, tortured and sentenced to death – but remarkably, lived until the age of 98.
Henri Nouwen was a Dutch priest who achieved recognition and fame as a writer, but followed a call to live as a care worker for a handicapped young man at the community of L’Arche in Toronto. These are examples of lives being laid down for others – of what it means to allow the radical love of Christ to abide in us.
In a way, we live in a sort of Truman story, often unaware of what goes on outside the immediate experience of our own existence. But unlike Truman, we are given plenty of direction about the nature of our world and our life.
At the end of The Truman Story, there is a choice to be made: remain, or continue in what is known, or to go elsewhere. Our God gives us much more information than Truman receives, but still gives us a choice about whether to continue, to remain in the state given to us. If we do, it will be challenging, risky, uncomfortable – but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding.