Sermon: May 17, 2009

18 05 2009

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

 

            John 10:11–18

 

            I would like to share one of my favorite poems.  It is entitled Love is…

 

 

Love is…

Love is
being happy for the other person
when they are happy
being sad for the other person 
when they are sad
being together in good times
and being together in bad times
Love is the source of strength

Love is
being honest with yourself 
at all times
being honest with the other person 
at all times
telling, listening, respecting the truth
and never pretending
Love is the source of reality

Love is
an understanding that is so complete 
that you feel as if you are a part 
of the other person
accepting the other person 
just the way they are
and not trying to change them 
to be something else
Love is the source of unity

Love is
the freedom to pursue your own desires
while sharing your experiences 
with the other person
the growth of one individual alongside of
and together with the growth 
of another individual
Love is the source of success

Love is
the excitement of planning things together
the excitement of doing things together
Love is the source of the future

 

Love is
the fury of the storm
the calm of the rainbow
Love is the source of passion

Love is
giving and taking in a daily situation
being patient with each 
other’s needs and desires
Love is the source of sharing

Love is
knowing that the other person
will always be with you regardless 
of what happens
missing the other person 
when they are away
but remaining near in heart at all times
Love is the source of security

Love is the
source of life
 

            What is love?  You know, that is a question that has inspired poets of all ages.  It has been the subject of studies by philosophers – the medical profession – psychologists – psychiatrists.  And no one seems to be able to get a handle on it.  That is except for Jesus.  Jesus says

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

                                                                             

            You know, every time I read this Gospel Lesson I always think of my father-in-law.  In South Dakota he use to raise sheep.  And he would always tell me how dumb sheep were.  How a sheep could be within a few yards of water or grass and could starve to death or die of thirst because they weren’t smart enough to walk the few yards to the water or the grass.  They needed someone – a shepherd – to lead them to where they should go.

            He would tell me how defenseless a sheep was.  They didn’t have sharp teeth or claws with which to defend themselves.  They weren’t fast enough to run away from predators.  They were easy targets.  They needed a shepherd to protect them from wolves and other predators.

            Jesus says I am your good shepherd.  I provide you with everything that you need.  I have given to you this world as yours to take care of and to provide for your every need.  Every thing that you need is right here.  The land on which to grow the crops that you need to feed yourself.  The materials to build anything that you might need.  The water to quench your thirst.  And every time the quantity gets low, I will replenish the supply.  There is no need that you will have that I will not take care of.

            I will protect you.  When evil comes your way.  I will defend you.  I will lay down my life for my sheep.  We saw that on Easter.  Jesus who came and laid down His life on a cross for His sheep.  He gave up His life so that we could have the promise of the forgiveness of sins.  He gave up His life so that we could have the promise of new life in heaven with the Father.  He gave up His life so that we could have the promise of God’s eternal love.

            But now God asks us an interesting question.  Do you appreciate what I have done for you?  Do you appreciate the world that I have given you?  Do you appreciate the sacrifice that I have made for you?  Do you?  Well, then feed my sheep.

God’s call to us is that if we appreciate what He has done for us then we will love His sheep.  We will take care of this world so that future generations can enjoy the bounty of what God has given us.  We will strive for and pray for peace around the world so that we will stop looking for better and more efficient ways of killing each other.  We will look for the stranger in our midst and make them feel welcome.  We will see the person in our neighborhood who is hurting and console them with our love.  We will defend one another when people gossip or slander a friend.  We will pray for and work towards feeding the hungry – clothing the naked – visiting the sick and those in prison.  In short we will model our behavior after the Good Shepherd and we will become Good Shepherds to those sheep that God has place in our hands.  We will care about our children and see to it that they are safe and taken care of.  We will give respect knowing that respect is something that we give – not something that has to be earned.  We will love because we know that love is something we give and not something that has to be earned.  We will lift up those around us because that is what Good Shepherds do.

 

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

 

 

 

 

Amen

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