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Relaxed familiarity (15-09-22)

Bible Readings:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day… (Genesis 3. 8)

Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener… Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15. 1, 4)

Jesus said: “My prayer is not for them (the disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17. 20 – 21) A Thought Having not had any twins in the family before, we are fascinated by the development of our identical twin granddaughters, Chloe and Naomi.

When the twins were babies, they would often lie side by side holding hands, or they would fall asleep in exactly the same position. Their cots are still side by side, and they have great fun exchanging cuddly toys and pillows from one cot to the other. The twins are now nearly eighteen months old, confident toddlers, who are constantly interacting with each other. They play together well, mostly interchanging toys without a glitch, at other times having a veritable tug of war over the same item. However, within seconds squabbles are forgotten and they are best buddies once more. They are completely at ease with one another. All of this play is now accompanied by constant companionable chatter. The twins clearly understand each other perfectly, but to the rest of the family, this lively verbal interaction is completely unintelligible!

We have a vicar friend, who is an identical twin. He described this deeply intuitive mutual relationship as a ‘relaxed familiarity’. Despite different career pathways and different locations, these adult twins in their fifties have retained that deep bond of friendship from childhood. Much of the closeness in their relationship is unconscious and instinctive, stemming from years of being known, loved and accepted.

This took me back to Genesis and the relationship God had intended with human beings from the beginning. God seemed to like nothing better than a relaxed stroll in the garden in the cool of an evening with his friends, Adam and Eve, a picture of loving acceptance and mutual companionship. This is the relationship spoiled by The Fall and restored by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke of the relationship he desired for his disciples – one of remaining close like a branch attached to the main stem of a vine. Later in the same conversation, he speaks of the disciples having a similar kind of relationship to that of Jesus and his heavenly Father. Despite being the Son of God, Jesus wants us to stay up close and personal, developing a similar deep intuitive bond of relaxed familiarity. This deep and loving friendship with God is then to spill over into relationships with other disciples and beyond. What changes could happen in our lives, our communities and our world, if we all adopted that ‘relaxed familiarity’ with God and one another!

A Prayer Lord Jesus, we pray that we will remain in you and you in us, secure in your love,

so that others will recognize that we are your disciples and be drawn to you. Amen.

One heart, one Spirit, Dave Bilbrough

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