From the Rector
On Abiding

This weekend I’m tremendously thankful to be able to share in a congregational retreat this weekend with nearly 80 members of Transfiguration. We’ll be at Camp Allen, which is the camp and conference center of the Diocese of Texas, located near Navasota. It is not an exaggeration for me to say that I am a Christian today because of the experiences I had at Camp Allen as a young man. It is where I was mentored by faithful, mature Christians, developed deep and lasting friendships, enjoyed some of the most memorable and fun moments of my life, and it is where I first stretched my legs as a leader during high school and college. I hope all those who will travel with me this weekend will also be blessed by the experience and come back on Sunday feeling refreshed and renewed

If that happens, it will have a little to do with how wonderful Camp Allen is, and a lot more to do with the benefit of simply going on spiritual retreat. The act of retreat can be a supremely holy exercise, in which we break our patterns of daily life in order to seek moments of quiet and reflection. A wise monk once reminded me, while on a retreat to SSJE, that a “retreat is not an advance,” so I should resist treating it as something to “accomplish” or “achieve.” Rather, retreats are meant to be simple times of relaxation in the conscious presence of God.

In the passage from John’s gospel that we’ll hear in church this weekend (by the way, service times at Transfiguration are unchanged this weekend, so if you’re not going on retreat, please come to church!), Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-8). To abide is a blend of action and reception: we are attentive to where we are and who we are with, yet we receive peace and joy from being in their presence. When we abide with Jesus, we are focused on being in his presence, and like a branch that receives its nourishment from the vine, he provides us with life, peace, and joy.

Retreats are times when we try to abide with Jesus, so I hope that, even if you couldn’t share in this particular retreat to Camp Allen, you will choose to make spiritual retreat a regular part of your life. I know from firsthand experience how hard it is to abide with Jesus when the demands and expectations of daily life are piled high all around. As much as I want to abide with Jesus each and every day, getting away really can be special and sacred time. If you’d like to find a way to go on your own retreat, contact a member of the clergy to find out about retreat centers near Dallas, or other ways you can go on a holy journey. We would love to help you.

Peace be with you all, my friends.