Easter 6 (May 17, 2009)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Acts 10:44-48; Ps. 98; I John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
We’ve been on the road. Six weeks of speaking in the United States and Canada, were followed by Mennonite Middle East Reference Group (MMERG) meetings in Jordan and MCC staff meetings in Egypt. This is our first weekend at home in two months!
In the United States and Canada, we had opportunity to talk about and receive counsel for our work in the Middle East. We enjoyed being in congregation and school settings in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and Ontario; and made stops at MCC’s three advocacy offices in Washington, D.C., New York City and Ottawa. A highlight at the United Nations was visiting Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, this year’s president of the U.N. General Assembly.
The MMERG meetings in Jordan provided opportunity to meet with workers from other Mennonite agencies who are working in the region. Alex Awad, Dean at Bethlehem Bible College, was the speaker.
In Egypt, we gathered with MCC colleagues across Europe and the Middle East for planning meetings, professional development and a few days of retreat. Earl and Pat Martin of Harrisonburg, Virginia were the resource persons.
This coming week we plan to travel to Iran for the fourth in a series of Mennonite-Shia Muslim scholar dialogues. This year’s topic is peace and justice from our respective religious traditions.
The Common Lectionary readings for this week are about abiding in Christ and being attentive and faithful to God’s commandments.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches – timely here in Amman, as grape vines that have been brown and dormant all winter are now full of green leaves beginning to produce grapes.
John says that we are to abide in Christ just as branches draw their life from the grapevine (John 15:4). Abiding in Christ requires that we are obedient to his commands, for example, to love one another (vv. 10, 12). Those who abide in Christ are assured that they will bear much fruit (vv. 4-6, 16) and that their prayers will be answered (v.7).
Similarly, the reading from John’s epistle says that we show our love for God by obeying God’s commands (I John 5:2-3). In the reading from Acts, Peter is attentive to the new things that God’s Spirit is doing and promptly responds in obedience (Acts 10:44-48).
Our prayer is to stay connected to God’s life-giving vine, to pay attention to the new things that God is doing in the world, and to respond in obedience to all that God invites us to be and do.