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Category Archives: Family Stories

Jesus Who Prays For Me

(a sermon for May 13, 2018, the 7th Sunday of Easter, based on  John 17:6-21)

What a feeling it is to realize that you have been prayed for.

It’s been almost 20 years now, but as you can imagine, the events surrounding our oldest son’s first surgery for the removal of a pituitary tumor are still indelibly etched in our family’s collective memory.  All of it: from the discovery, after a long search, of the tumor itself and the decision that something akin to brain surgery (the first of what turned out to be four such procedures over the next ten years or so) would be necessary to remove it; through the countless doctors’ appointments, consultations and follow-up visits; and leading up to all those horrible hours spent in hospital waiting rooms waiting for news.  It was a difficult situation, to say the very least; and this is to say nothing of the hard realization that all the medical advances in the world mean nothing when it’s your kid being wheeled into the operating room!

But that said I also have to say that what I also remember about that time was being awed, amazed and utterly humbled by the prayers being prayed for our son.  Now, we knew that our families and our friends would be praying for Jake as he was going through this, and that of course meant everything; and given not only that we were members of a close-knit church family but also that I was pastor of that congregation, we were very grateful to know that the church would be praying as well!  But I guess what was surprising was the depth, intensity and the utter expanse of that prayerfulness; as revealed by the women who gathered in the sanctuary on the morning of the surgery so that they could pray together at the exact moment the doctors were operating; or as evidenced by the prayers coming from the people in other churches in town, as well as from those at Jake’s school, others throughout the community and even from perfect strangers (!) who would came up to us in the supermarket to embrace us and let us know in a variety of ways that they’d been praying for us.

Friends, over the course of several months we got cards and letters from people we hadn’t heard from in forever or barely knew at all; and not only that, but also notes from churches out of town (and even out of state!) who wished us well and who wanted us to know that Jake’s name had been brought up in prayer concerns during morning worship!  I think my favorite, however, were the cards and pictures that came to us from an anonymous someone in Connecticut – we never did find out exactly who – but which was always signed by their cat, “Mittens;” as in, “Mittens is praying that Jake feels “purr-fect” very soon!”

It was amazing, it was uplifting… and it mattered.  It not only offered up to us a large measure of comfort and encouragement at a time when it was sorely needed, it also revealed something to us of the love of Christ in the midst of all our worry and stress.  All those prayers, no matter what their shape or form, made a real difference in our lives; it was such an incredible feeling, and so very important for us to know that our son was being prayed for; that Lisa and I and our whole family was being prayed for; and that there those out there who cared about us and who loved us and, moreover, who trusted God to hear them and respond to them as they prayed for us!

Those who have been there know what I mean when I say that this was life-affirming and in many ways, life-changing; and that’s why we should never underestimate the meaning of what we do together in our prayer time every Sunday morning.  There is power in prayer, and there is love expressed in the act of prayer; which is what makes it all the more remarkable to discover through our text for this morning that in the midst of those final moments just before the events of his crucifixion begin to unfold; even as, as David Lose puts it, he is “anticipating an immediate future that will include betrayal, trial, condemnation, beating, and execution,” Jesus stops everything to pray or those he loves… for his disciples… for those closest to him… and for you and me.

This passage from John’s gospel we’ve shared this morning continues on with what’s referred to as Jesus’ “farewell discourses,” but biblical scholars and church theologians often talk about these verses from the 17th chapter as being Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer.”  This is a reference to Old Testament tradition, in which the temple priest would go into the “Holy of Holies,” which was the central-most part of the temple, so to offer up prayers of the people and bring a sacrifice as a payment for their sins.  In our Christian faith, of course, we understand that Jesus stands as a mediator between God and ourselves; offering up the one, true sacrifice – himself – as the final and complete payment for our sin before God.  So… the tradition of the church has always held that this prayer of Jesus in John’s gospel represents Jesus acting as our temple priest; quite literally standing before the throne of grace offering up prayers for his people in preparation for the sacrifice that’s to be made.

And that’s certainly true; in fact, these are verses central to our whole understanding of Christian theology; in particular the idea of Christ’s atonement for our sin, all for the sake of our salvation before God!  But I also have to say that because of how incredibly rich and dense the language in John can sometimes be, we can easily miss how very personal a prayer this is.  I mean, think of it; Jesus is speaking these words to his heavenly Father just prior to that moment in the garden when Judas and the soldiers come to arrest him.  Jesus knows that his hour is nigh, that very soon now he’s going to have to leave his disciples; and so he wants them to be prepared for what’s going to happen next.  Actually, you know, if you read all through these “farewell discourses” in John, you realize that up till this point, Jesus has been giving his disciples a whole series of last minute teachings – about his nature, about the sure and certain hope of life eternal, about peace that the world can’t give nor take away, and about the disciples’ own mission of love moving forward; three chapters’ worth of these teachings in John’s gospel (!) – but now, the lessons are done and in these last few moments before what’s destined to happen happens Jesus needs to pray for them!

And it makes sense; after all, these are the ones who have been the ones closest to Jesus, and these are the ones – whether they understand it or not at this point – who will carry on his ministry! Certainly Jesus wanted his disciples to have the protection and the assurance of God the Father in every uncertain moment that was to come to them, in the days and years to come.  So yes, he would pray for them, which in and of itself is an act of great love and affection; but – and this is important – it turns out that it’s not just the disciples that he’s praying for… Jesus is praying “not only on behalf of these” but also “on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,” (vs. 20)   and that includes you and me, “that they may all be one.”

And I don’t know about you, but the very idea of it fills me with awe: that the very same Jesus who in his moment of deepest despair would seize that time to pray for his disciples is also the Jesus who prays for me!

And what a prayer it is!   It’s certainly not a prayer that all will go easily for his disciples, because Jesus knew it wouldn’t; that it couldn’t!  It’s interesting to note that all throughout this prayer, Jesus talks about how the “world” that hated him would also hate his disciples “because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.”  The Greek word that’s used here for “world” is kosmos, which more than just suggesting the physical nature of the earth, really means that which is totally alien and hostile to God’s intention to love and redeem all; in other words, Jesus knows that there will always be that “dark side” of humanity who will hate them simply because of who – and whose – they are!

So Jesus doesn’t pray that all will go along without incident, devoid of any difficulty or conflict in their lives ahead;  but rather that they, and we, might always be protected by the power of God’s name, “so they can be of one heart and mind” just as Jesus and his heavenly father were of one heart and mind.  And his prayers of intercession build from there: praying that more than simply having protection from their troubles, “they may have [his] joy made complete in themselves,” as they go forth with God’s word on their tongues and in their lives; praying that because of this they not be lost as Judas had been “so that scripture would be fulfilled;”   and praying finally, and above all, that they may be sanctified – that is, consecrated, made holy“in the truth;” which is God’s word.

And that’s important, too.

For what Jesus understood would be true for his first disciples would also be true for any of us who are followers of Christ: that the very nature of being his disciples, of adhering to the Word they’d received from him, would mean living their lives as outsiders, living “in the world but not of the world,” and yet because of this, having a clear purpose and mission for life itself; to be made holy for what we do, or as the word from the original Greek, hagios, suggests, to be “set apart for sacred use.”  Jesus – the Jesus who prays for me and for you – prays that in and through all our journeys and all our trials and all of our crises of life and even faith we might be set apart by God himself for sacred use!

It’s a big prayer; really, there’s no other way to describe it.  But in the end, you see, what it all comes down to is while that life is difficult, full of the unexpected, the unimaginable and very often the unmanageable, our Lord, in infinite love and care, has prayed – and is still praying – for us: that we might find the strength we need to get through; that we might glean joy in the midst of sorrow; and that we will be made aware in ways both large and small that we are not, and have never been alone in the struggle.  Jesus prays for us with the same constancy of care and compassion as that of the one who knows us the best; he shows us the deep and abiding love of God who brings to us life both abundant and eternal; and he assures us that even right here and right now, in the midst of it all, we’ve been set aside for a sacred purpose.

What a feeling it is to realize that you have been prayed for. 

I wonder what Jesus is praying for in us today.  Maybe that we find the strength, the encouragement or the patience to get through the stress and uncertainty of whatever it is we’re having to face at this moment; a medical issue, perhaps; or a “rough patch” in a relationship with a loved one, a friend or co-worker?  It could be that Jesus is praying that we find the courage we need to stand up in the face of injustice (both personal and societal), or that we might we finally get some sense of healing of mind, body, spirit… or all three at once.  Maybe he’s praying that we have the grace to receive and accept the forgiveness we’ve needed for so long; or else that we figure out that what we really need to do is to be more forgiving of others!  Maybe Jesus is simply praying that we’ll stop for a moment, and pay attention… pay attention to God’s presence and power, and remember how much we’re loved.

Whatever the need happens to be today, friends; know that Jesus already knows, and that he’s praying for you and for me; and that we are the recipients and the stewards of that truly amazing grace.

There is power in his prayer; there is power to comfort us, to strengthen us, and to move us through the joys and struggles of this life… and I pray that each one of us here today might be strengthened and renewed by the power of that prayer.

Thanks be to God!

Amen and AMEN!

c. 2018  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

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Friended

(a sermon for May 6, 2018, the 6th Sunday of Easter, based on John 15:9-17)

It was by far my least favorite part of elementary school, and it always happened just about this time of year.

Twice a week, you see, beginning in the 4th grade, there was “Gym Class;” and every spring, once the northern Maine snow had finally melted and the weather was warmer, our teacher would take us outdoors to a park across the street from school so we could play some kind of game, usually kickball as I recall.   Now that in and of itself wasn’t bad, nor was getting to go outside on a sunny day during school hours (!); but you see, this inevitably began with a schoolyard ritual that  was the worst possible affront to my self-esteem: it always had to start by “choosing up” teams!

Now, I’m sure you all did this in school, so you know the rules:  two people were chosen as team captains (in our case, assigned the role by our gym teacher), and each captain would in turn choose from the rest of the kids in the class who they wanted on their team.  And if you were strong and athletic, popular and/or friends with one of the captains you got chosen right away; but… if, like me, you were awkward and slow, most decidedly non-athletic or, to quote the late Jean Shepherd, one of the “nameless, faceless rabble of victims” in the elementary school jungle (!) then you ended up one of the last to be chosen; and even then, chosen reluctantly!  This was the scenario for me pretty much all through school, and though I hated it I pretty much accepted that my fate, as in the words of that Peter, Paul and Mary song, was usually to take up “my place in right field, watching the dandelions grow!”

Looking back, however, I realize it wasn’t always that way.  Sometimes our gym teacher would purposely choose one of the non-athletes in the class to be a captain, and then it became a matter of principle that the rest of us would be chosen swiftly for that team (it made for a rather one-sided kickball game, but it was all good!).  And then there were times when I suspect the captain in question was at least a good sport about it and made sure that the “least” weren’t picked “last.” But I especially remember how once our gym teacher chose someone as a captain who was in fact a kid I hung out with; and so, even though that kid knew firsthand how awful I was at kickball he still picked me first!  But whatever the reason was, you see, I didn’t care; I was happy just to be chosen, but even more than this, it was just so good to have a friend who would choose me!

Well, our gospel reading for this morning continues what is often referred to in scripture as Jesus’ “farewell discourses,” those things that our Savior said to those closest to him in the final moments just before all the events of betrayal and desertion that led up to the cross began to unfold.  And Jesus’ words are familiar to our ears, to be sure; just as in the imagery of vines and branches we heard about last week, there’s this on-going theme of connectedness and “abiding:” that “as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love;” that keeping his commandments is the strong connection that keeps us abiding in his love; and that the central and most important commandment of them all is, Jesus says, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  In fact, Jesus goes on to say, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  And – here’s where things get really interesting – in the midst of all of this, Jesus says, “You are my friends… I do not call you servants any longer… I have called you friends… You did not choose me but I chose you.”

It’s an amazing distinction; especially when you consider who it was to whom Jesus was talking!   Robert R. Kruschwitz, the director for the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, writes that “Jesus’ first and closest disciples were on their best days easily distracted from their love of God, care for one another, and concern for their neighbors.  Some, like Judas, even grew to be wayward, rebellious and mean.”  In other words, whatever else one might have to say about the disciples, I think that we can agree that they weren’t exactly “first pick” material (!); they were, in fact, pretty much a ragtag group of local fishermen, tax collectors and a thief or two!  And yet, Kruschwitz goes on to say, “turning to all these would-be followers, Jesus explained his and the Father’s deep, sacrificial love for them” in telling them that he chose them, not the other way around; and that while the nature of their relationship might have suggested otherwise, Jesus was not calling them servants any longer but he has called them friends.

Understand that whatever the disciples did not understand about what Jesus was telling them or about what was about to happen as Maundy Thursday evening became Good Friday morning, they did know that the very idea that Jesus was now referring to them as friends was… unprecedented and, as I said before, amazing!   To begin with, in Jesus’ time, friendship was a serious matter. To be considered a friend was to be in a position of honor; it meant being treated as one would treat a loved one.  Likewise, to be a friend meant looking out for the welfare of the other and to put the other’s needs on an equal footing with one’s own.

All of this is borne out in the language that Jesus uses here, which is very specific: as John’s gospel records it, there are actually two words used here for love:  agape, which is the Greek word for full, self-giving and sacrificial love, and philos, which is usually translated in English as “friend,” but is probably more accurately rendered as “loved one.”  So, you see, what Jesus is saying is that “I love you (agape) with everything that I have to give, because you are my (philos) loved one!”   That’s the context, you see, by which Jesus proclaims that “no one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” and that is the criteria by which he calls us friend.

For the good news is that just as was true for the disciples before us, we too have been “friended” by Jesus.  You and I have been chosen by Jesus himself to have a relationship, deep and intimate, with the divine; in Jesus we come to know everything we need to know about God, and through Jesus, who is our friend, each one of us is appointed to “go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”

And that’s important; because remember, the kind of friendship we’re talking about here is by its very nature reciprocal.  In other words, as Jesus calls us friend, we are called to be a friend of Jesus.

This is actually the place where we often stumble on this particular passage; after all, as you may have noticed, there are a few “if’s” in these verses that come into play:  “IF you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love… You are my friends IF you do what I command you.”  At first read, it kind of suggests that this friendship with Jesus is conditional in nature; that if we don’t behave ourselves Jesus will withhold that friendship, or even worse stop loving us!  And if that’s the case; truly, as Scott Hoezee writes in an essay on this passage, “if the soundness and consistency of my love is the key to being in good with God and with Jesus, then I [would have] good reason to be afraid of my eternal destiny.”   Thanks be to God, then, that this is not the nature of our friendship with Jesus, nor its requirement; it is, in fact, our response!  “These injunctions to love,” writes Hoezee, “… are for those already in the love of God!”

Not that our response to having been friended is any less important: I actually love the analogy that Hoezee makes for this; he describes our need to respond to Jesus’ friendship as to what happens – or what should happen (!) – in marriage!  He writes that “being married – and being genuinely in love within that marriage – does not absolve one of the need to be faithful, to do loving acts, to tend and nurture the marriage relationship in very active ways.  The solid marriage and the carrying out of vital marriage tasks are not at odds with each other.  Only a fool would say, ‘Because my marriage is sound, I don’t have to do a blessed thing to nourish and nurture the relationship.’”  In other words, you respond to the love you’re given by giving love in kind; and even though we are commanded by Jesus to love one another as Jesus has loved us, it’s nothing that can be forced.  However, “it’s the kind of thing that those who truly love Jesus are only too glad to do,” and it only begins to make sense when you are connected – when you abide – in Jesus.

You know, all these years later I still think back on those days when I’d actually be chosen – and not chosen last (!) – to play on my friend’s kickball team; and how good that felt.  Granted, I was still not, to say the very least, a strong player; in fact, I somehow always managed to be the one who always dropped the ball or who perennially was the one who made the third out!  But in retrospect, I realize that my inability to properly play the game was far less important than the fact that I was welcomed into the game; and that I’d been encouraged to be a part of it through someone who truly knew me and cared about me.  It also encouraged me to try and offer up the kind of friendship that had been given to me; which seems to me, at least in sixth grade parlance, to creating an atmosphere of philos, if not agape!

Well, this is who Jesus is, beloved; the one who binds our hearts to his; the one who loves and forgives us our weaknesses and shortcomings; the one who tells us, again and again, that we should try our best to live and abide in love, and then trust him with everything else; the one who encourages us to draw upon his strength, his hope, his love, and his Spirit to empower and sustain us.

For he – Jesus Christ – is the one who sought us out, and who chose us to be with him.  He is the one who calls us “friend,” and who calls us to the same kind of friendship.

Beloved, let us come now to the table of the Lord to truly know our friend in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup…

…and may our thanks be to God.

Amen and AMEN.

c. 2018  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 

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Shepherded

(a sermon for April 22, 2018, the 4th Sunday of Easter, based on Psalm 23 and John 10:11-18)

It is almost certainly the most familiar and oft-quoted opening lines in all of Holy Scripture:  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  Likewise, the first part of our gospel reading for this morning is just about as iconic:  “I am the good shepherd.”   These are two passages of scripture that just about everyone knows one level or another, and for good reason; indeed, it’s the very imagery by which countless people throughout the centuries and from every nation, every culture and every walk of life have found comfort and peace, and quite literally how they come to know and begin to understand the deep and graceful love of God Almighty!

However… I have to say here this morning that each of these wonderful verses also offer up something of a challenge not only to our interpretation and understanding of scripture, but also in our perception of ourselves and who we are; something of which I was reminded this week, courtesy of a quote I found from one Jason Micheli: “To profess that the Lord is your shepherd,” he writes, “is to confess that you are a sheep.”   Now I don’t know about you, friends, but I have to be honest: I’m not at all sure how I feel about that!

Not that I have anything against sheep, mind you; it’s just that they don’t necessarily fit the image that I have of them!  Let me give you an example:  at the church where I served as pastor in Ohio, one of the traditions was that on several evenings each Christmas we put on a “live nativity” for the community.  It was actually quite a production; we had this huge stable set up in the front yard of the church; the children and youth of the congregation dressed up as all the main characters and acted out the story;  there was special lighting and beautiful music playing through the loudspeakers, and best of all, there were live animals from nearby farms that visitors could meet up close and personal: donkeys, llamas, even a camel on a couple of years that they could find one (!); and of course, as would befit any good manger scene, there were also plenty of sheep!

And it was wonderful; except for that one year when someone inadvertently left the latch on the sheep pen open; and when one sheep, who it must be said was not particularly pleased to be cooped up to begin with, bolted out of the sheep pen!  Now as I understand it, one of the youth group kids playing shepherd immediately lunged to try and keep that sheep from escaping, but to no avail; because he was off and running, across the busy main street of the town and out into the December darkness!  And so then, of course, right behind the sheep went several other of our youth group members chasing after him (including, I should point out here, Sarah and Zach)!

In remembering this yesterday, Sarah told me that it was really quite a thing that there were all these kids running through yards and alleyways – and all dressed in biblical garb, mind you (!) – trying in vain to catch up with this sheep who was, understandably, trying his best to stay away from them!   Eventually, after several attempts the kids did manage to corner the animal on somebody’s back porch and eventually he was brought back to the manger safe and sound; but not before he’d covered several city blocks and inspired a few calls to the police (we even made the local paper’s police blotter that talked about several reports of an “errant and wayward sheep” running rampant through the neighborhood).  It was all best summed up in the words of one of our church members, actually the farmer who had lent us that animal for the nativity, “He was just a bahhh..d sheep!”

And therein lies my problem with being characterized as a sheep, or even a lamb!  To quote Jason Micheli once again, “Lambs are lame. Sheep are stubborn. Sheep wander. Sheep get lost. Sheep fall into valleys;” in a word, albeit one that’s unkind, by themselves at least, sheep tend to be… well, stupid.  Whatever else you can say about them, you see – their wool, their meat, their intrinsic beauty (!) – the fact remains that sheep are totally dependent on their shepherd for their care; they ever and always need to be led and guided and protected by the shepherd, or else they will inevitably end up “lunch for wolves!”

So… given all that, it is indeed one thing for you and I to think of God as our shepherd; but it is quite another, is it not, to recognize ourselves as the sheep of his pasture; as those who would so easily and so foolishly wander away from the fold.  I mean, we’re smarter than that, aren’t we?  Maybe when we were young and still learning, we could find ourselves making unfortunate choices that went very badly, but now with time and experience, not to mention a touch of grey in the wool (!), we know better; and certainly we’ve learned to take care of ourselves!  God created us to be free and fierce and independent, is that not true?  We have had set before us “the ways of life and death,” and we’ve been taught of what it means to live in faith and with love!  So why, then, is it so important that we have be “shepherded” through life like some mindless, feckless member of a nameless, faceless flock?

There again…

…isn’t it also true, as the Psalm today suggests, that so many of us have found ourselves at various parts of the journey “walking through the darkest valley,”  encountering evil at its most fearful and personal level?  How many of us can attest to times and situations when we’ve found ourselves “in the presence of [our] enemies,” and wondering where, if at all, “goodness and mercy” was to be found; and if we’d ever again find ourselves amidst green pastures and “beside still waters.”  I know I can… because I’ve felt that way on more than one moment of my life; but I can also tell you that in those moments, I was glad, and so utterly relieved to be able to cry out in my own despair that “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Oh, yes, friends; there are times for each of us when we know what it is to be pursued and even “snatche[d]” by the wolves of this world; a problem made even worse by the fact that so often there are, as Jesus describes them in our gospel reading today, “hired hands” in this life who purport to care for and protect us but who run at the first sign of trouble.  Whether you read that as any manner of “false prophet,” see it as the disloyalty of so-called “fair weather friends,” or maybe even as some of the other worldly ways and means on which we place so much dependence – things like money, power, popularity and on and on – the fact is, just like all good sheep, we do have an awareness of what it is to feel lost in this life, to be scattered and to be utterly in danger.  And as much as at times we want to deny it, we also know that what’s proclaimed elsewhere in the Psalms is very true indeed: that “the LORD is God. [That it is God] who made us, and we are his; [and that] we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” and that because of this, and so much more besides, we stand in the need of being shepherded.

So isn’t it wonderful, then, that you and I are being shepherded by the one who says, “I am the good shepherd,” the one who “lays down his life for the sheep.”

It’s been said, you know, that there’s not a single phrase or verse in John’s gospel that John did not have a very good reason to put in there.  Our passage for this morning is actually one of several “I am” sayings that John includes in his gospel story (“I am the bread of life” (6:35), “I am the light of the world” (8:12), “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25) are amongst the others); each one designed to show forth not only the depth of our human need but also to proclaim the infinite capacity of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, to meet those needs for us.  So it is in our reading for this morning; that despite our cries to the contrary, you and I do stand in the need of a leader, a protector, a caregiver and a singular, recognizable voice to lead us to life. We need a good shepherd, one with power, with loyalty and with unending love; and that’s what we have in Jesus.

Of course, when Jesus first said these words, the people heard them in the context of Israel’s image of a Messiah who was to come to rule the people, and who would embody the very attributes of God.  This King, in the words of Alyce McKenzie, would be the one whose duty was “to act out of concern for justice for the poor, to be a shepherd who looked out for the rights and needs of the widow and the orphan,” and who would protect, even at the cost of his life, “the most vulnerable of the flock.”  This would reflect the whole vision of what the Psalmist was talking about when he said, “The Lord is my shepherd!”

As the people would soon learn, both at the foot of the cross and at the entrance of an empty tomb, there was so more to what God was doing in Jesus Christ than just the coming of another King, another worldly ruler.  Indeed, as another “I am” saying in John proclaims it, Jesus was, and is, “the way, the truth and the life,” (14:6) and the goodness of his shepherding of you and I, as well as all those whom he love is that Jesus has the power to care for and to protect us no matter what, even to the extent of laying down his life on our behalf.  By the grace of the Father, he said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.”  Life – life abundant and life eternal – is ours in the name of Jesus Christ who is truly the “good” shepherd of the sheep, who are you… and me!

I’ll admit, there are still times when I wish I could be a little less of a sheep; that I could be wholly and completely non reliant on anyone else’s help or guidance.  I would love to be able to daily live my live doing my own thing, out there happily grazing in the pasture without fear of anything or anyone (“Fat, dumb and happy,” is that the phrase?  I don’t know…).  But life isn’t like that; and that’s why I need a good shepherd; that’s why we all need the good shepherd in our lives.  Maybe we don’t always understand why life unfolds the way it does; maybe it is hard to figure out what God is doing at any given moment, or how it is that we’re ever going to get through the times and situations of our lives.  Sometimes we do feel lost, scattered and alone.

All I know is that on those occasions when like that “bahh..d sheep” of the living nativity, I want to bolt out into the darkness, no matter how determined and stubborn I may be about wandering off, there will also be a good shepherd just as determined to bring me home to safety and to the security of endless and eternal love.

In our lives and in these times, beloved, that’s about as good news as we ever need to hear.  So let us rejoice in that kind of love,

… and let our thanks be to God!

Amen and AMEN!

c. 2018  Rev. Michael W. Lowry

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2018 in Family Stories, Jesus, Psalms, Sermon

 

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