We approach that transition point in our small but bustling town: that point at which the college and church calendar speeds towards the finish line and we gear up for the summer arts and tourism season. It’s an exciting moment in Williamstown’s life, I’ve found: like you, I’ve been checking to see what the upcoming exhibitions at the Clark and Mass MoCA will be; what timely topics Williamstown Theater Festival will take on, what not-to-be-missed Tanglewood performances are on the horizon. Spring is finally here, but we’re at a threshold: summer is almost here, but not yet.
We certainly have plenty going on: we are planning a special service on May 21st that will mix jazz and Matisse (yes, you heard right!) with guest musician Christopher Bakrisse. I’m delighted to announce that we will be joining with St. John’s church this year for our (new) tradition of holding an 8am service at the Clark on Williams Commencement Day June 4th. Beth Davis and the youth are planning for a slightly later Youth Sunday this year, to be held on June 11th. And, on Sundays May 7th, May 14th, and May 28th, we’ll finish up our year-long journey into the gospel of John.
When Jesus stands at the threshold of his crucifixion in John’s gospel, he tells his disciples to “abide” in him. John takes three whole chapters, 14-17, for Jesus to give a farewell message (or “Farewell Discourse”). Jesus says a great deal in those chapters, but one key message is the invitation, even command, to remain in dynamic relationship with Jesus (and God through Jesus). He uses a famous metaphor of a vine and branches: “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Abide in me, as I abide in you.” John uses Jesus’ final sermon to encourage the followers of Jesus then, and now, to stay connected to the source amidst great change, upheaval, and heartbreak.
We, too, are living in a moment of profound change, upheaval, and heartbreak. As Bill McKibben put it in last week’s Times Sunday Review: “The planet does not have time for this.” The planet does not have time for more coal plants, for more fossil fuels, for impediments to solar and wind power growth, for climate change related extreme weather that effects the world’s most vulnerable people. It is extremely tempting, on this threshold, to choose despair or frenetic burnout. To those tempted towards hopelessness, Jesus invites us to the encouragement that comes from “abiding” with God.” And to the activists among us, Jesus likewise reminds us that true and lasting fruit, or change, comes from our connection to the vine’s source: which is nothing less than Love.
Here’s to standing on the threshold of change, together, with Jesus.