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Follow the Shepherd

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The Gospel

John 10:1-10

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

The Sermon

I have never seen myself as much of a follower. It rubs up against my self image as an independent thinker and someone who isn't afraid to go it alone. I would imagine many of you see yourselves in much the same way. However, there are times to follow and I am a follower of Jesus.

I like Jesus's metaphor of the sheep. He used it often in his ministry. A little later in John's Gospel, Jesus tells Peter to, “feed my sheep”. I would like to share a story I found on a website called Sermons that Work and the author of the story is Rev. Frank Hedegus. Before I write a sermon I usually read what this website has to offer and sometimes it is a catalyst for what I share with you. Sometimes not.

Here is the story that was embedded in this sermon. A wise man among the Indians was asked by his grandson about the conflict and discord in the world. The elder reflected for a moment and then replied, “My child, there are two dogs battling within my heart. One is full of anger, hatred, and rage. The other is full of love, forgiveness, and peace.” The old man paused, and he and his grandson sat for a moment in silence by the side of the stream. Finally, the boy spoke again, “Grandfather, which dog will win the battle in your heart? The one filled with hatred, or the one filled with love?” The old man looked at his grandson and replied, “The one I feed will win.”

We need to be careful who feeds us and where we look for food. So what kind of food is Jesus offering us, his followers, his sheep. His message of the importance of love is consistent throughout the new testament. Jesus gives us examples of who to love and how we show our love. He tells us to love each other and to love our God. He tells us that when we demonstrate acts of kindness to the least of our brethren we have shown it to him. Jesus has fed us with a clear message about how we should go about our lives.

And, like a good shepherd, when we sheep stray from the path we are to follow, Jesus guides us back and when we ask forgiveness, he forgives.


Fr. Fred

On The Road

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The Epistle

1 Peter 1:17-23

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

The Gospel

Luke 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The Sermon

 The Road to Emmaus

This is a wonderful story. I can just picture these two followers of Jesus. One is a man named Cleopus and we don't know the name or gender of the other. They are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a town about seven miles away. They are sad, tired, distraught. Jesus has died and all of their hope for a triumphant Israel has died with him. To make it worse, the betrayal came from their own people. And then, somehow, a man comes up along side them and they begin to talk.

Jesus has put some kind of spell of Cleopus and the other disciple to keep them from knowing who he is and he asks them what they are talking about. They are astounded that he has not heard and they unload on him. Jesus sees this as a teaching moment and he explains to them that they have just been witnessing a prophesy fulfilled. He walks them through the prophetic scripture and they understand.

The disciples convince him to stay at their house for supper and at the breaking of the bread the veil is lifted. The disciples see they have been talking to the Lord the whole time. And then, suddenly, Jesus vanishes before their eyes.

I think this is more than just a richly described accounting of events. I believe we are being given a message. I believe we are to reflect on times when we have been walking with Jesus and we weren't aware of it.

I remember a time when I was down on my luck. I was twenty years old and all I had was five bucks in my shoe. I figured that if I was robbed the robber wouldn't take off my shoes to look for cash. I had heard there were jobs in the bay area and I was hitch hiking to there from Santa Barbara in the hopes that something would turn up. On the way I was picked up by a man who showed incredible kindness to me by taking me to Berkeley where he and his wife lived. They fed me, let me spend the night in their son's bedroom (he was off to college) and dropped me off after a good breakfast the next day.

The man wasn't Jesus in disguise by any means but I believe Jesus had a hand in my good fortune that day. I truly believe Jesus walks with us more than we know. I don't believe much in coincidences. What about you? I am sure you have a story to tell about a time when Jesus must have been walking along side you.

I want to bring the reading from Peter into this sermon. Peter says that we are children of an eternal parent and that by obedience to the truth we have come to have sincere love for one another earnestly with all our hearts. Once again we hear that four letter

Peter ends chapter one with what I would describe as a poem:

All human beings are like grass, and all their glory is like wild flowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord remains forever.

That word is the good news of Jesus Christ.


Meditation Tonight

On Tuesday we have bible study here at St. Andrew's.  There are from eight to ten of us who gather for discussion of the upcoming week's scripture readings.  We use the lectionary study guide titled Synthesis CE.  At the end of the study guide they have a series of questions designed to promote higher level thinking on our readings.  The questions really do make you think, sometimes laugh and sometimes squirm.  

This week one of the questions was "How do you experience Christ most fully."  For me it is meditation.  When I sit and quiet my mind I feel God's presence.  The experience is not something easy to describe.  It is a feeling of being protected, embraced and loved.  I look forward each day to my time with God and I hope you find God in your way as well.

Fr. Fred