Sheep will not survive without a shepherd. If Jesus is the Good shepherd, that makes us the sheep. That makes us the unflattering description I just made. Diana Butler Bass reflects on this at a personal level. My junior high school locker mate lived on a farm. Her family raised sheep. Every morning, she helped feed the critters and arrived at school with clothes smelling like manure.
Cute, furry creatures depicted in pastoral scenes of old-fashioned farms. Baby lambs born in the spring. It was not, however, invested with quixotic ideals of rural life. Rather, the Good Shepherd was the most common form of catacomb art — it was how early Christians decorated their tombs. The sheep was a symbol for the deceased soul, and the shepherd was the symbol of Jesus bearing the dead to heaven. I hear echoes of the first Epistle of John. We must decide for ourselves — individually and as a congregation — how we will love with actions and in truth.
We still have work to do to close the gap between the love we profess and the love we share. And we also know from Jesus that to really love with actions and truth will require us to lay down our life.
It seems oxymoronic, but the only way the church will not die is by dying. It is only by giving ourselves away that we will live.
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Our job is to lay down our life for the sheep. For this sermon, I used and sometimes quote from pages and You wake me up at 2 AM to ask if people grow from spores? Are you out of your mind?? Why are you even awake?! Go to sleep!!
She must not know. My search for truth often begins in the middle of the night. Or I suddenly find myself awake in the darkness of the middle of the night. Maybe it was my own snoring that woke me. The rest of the world is quiet. But maybe God knows that the middle of the night is the time when I am most apt to listen.
This can be a time of prayer and for asking the questions that seem to have no answers. But in this silence of the middle of the night … Words and ideas roll around, reflect, move deeper into my being. And my filters are turned off. I end up expressing exactly what is weighing most heavily on my heart and mind: Friends who are experiencing brokenness.
The violence in the Middle East. The continued threats of climate change and the seeming international commitment to do nothing about it. And not just these things. What really comes up are my anxiety, my fear, and my anger because of these unsolvable sufferings. And sometimes what comes up is my disbelief. Still, sometimes I am given the grace to listen. Maybe in the middle of the night there is an opening to the presence of God. Thanks be to God that it is okay to cry out in the night like a frightened child.
Go to sleep! In the daytime, things are different. In the daylight, I deal with practicalities.
- 5 words on extemporaneous preaching.
- Budgie Smugglers (A humorous action, adventure, survival series for children, middle grade, teen and young adult) (Urban Hunters Book 4).
- Rotation (Nexus 3)!
- Buying Options.
- The Unknown;
Idle tales were told at the break of day of the one whom they thought would redeem Israel, the one who was tortured and executed, was somehow alive. Jerusalem is a place of sorrow and of danger now. The practical thing to do is leave.
Random Jottings: the blog of Richard L. Mabry, MD
A stranger comes to them and opens the scriptures to them and they invite him to stay and share a meal. And the idle tales told earlier in the day somehow take on flesh. The story has it all — well, almost all of it. It is a resurrection story that talks about the horror of the crucifixion, these the defining events of Christianity. It has the outline of a worship service in it — Jesus discusses scripture and then celebrates the Eucharist communion.
It speaks to the spiritual dimensions of faith and the mysteries of faith. John Dominic Crossan, one of those Biblical scholars I respect, writes about the importance of non-literal interpretations of scripture using the Emmaus Road story as an example. In fact, even more so, because now it was no longer confined by time or place.
And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. They tried to express what they meant by telling, for example, about the journey to Emmaus undertaken by two Jesus followers, one named and clearly male, one unnamed and probably female.
Sustaining Preachers and Preaching: A Practical Guide
The couple were leaving Jerusalem in disappointed and dejected sorrow. Jesus joined them on the road and, unknown and unrecognized, explained how the Hebrew scriptures should have prepared them for his fate. Later that evening they invited him to join them for their evening meal and finally they recognized him when once again he served the meal to them as of old beside the lake.
And then, only then, they started back to Jerusalem in high spirits.
The symbolism is obvious as is the metaphoric condensation of the first years of Christian thought and practice into one parabolic afternoon. Emmaus never happened. Emmaus always happens.
There, at the table, their eyes were opened and they recognized Christ, there in the midst of their community. The story goes on. The disciples are huddled in the upper room when the two disciples came running back from Emmaus to say that Jesus was with them on the road, and was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. And as they were discussing these strange things, Jesus suddenly was there in their midst.
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The disciples were startled and terrified. They thought it was a ghost! Look at my hands and feet. Give me something to eat. So often, I feel like I should have no doubts, that I should only know joy. Christ is in my heart. And the world is a complicated place. And sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night …. Jesus invites our questions, our doubts, and our fears to surface and then helps us discover the answers which give new life and hope in the midst of our fears and doubts. No need to run away from reality. We can recognize the Christ at work in the middle of it.
And he brought a new reality: the good news of peace; and the triumph of life over death. Despite our fear and doubt, Christ calls us to bear witness to the resurrection. Where do I recognize the living Christ? And I came back to two things: bread and scars. These are the two places where I most recognize Christ. There is something about a group of people uniting in the Spirit that transforms it into the living presence of Christ. Back in the days when the Winter Relief program was still using churches for emergency shelter, I saw Christ take from as people from our church rallied together to create a space of welcome.
I can bear witness to the resurrection.