There is no question about the comfort one receives when we know that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, guiding us, caring for us, finding us (when we stray), and rescuing us when we get into trouble. This week’s Acts scripture turns the tables on us by making us think about what it means to be a follower of Christ. Yes, he’s our Shepherd, but how do we live fully as his sheep? It couldn’t be plainer than Acts—care for all in the community (selling your stuff), spend time with others in worship, share the meal with others, be joyful and generous. And that’s how we show gratitude to the Good Shepherd; and he in turn will increase our numbers. [Based on the sermon commentary at SOLI (Stewardship of Life Institute) website.]
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Jesus said, “. . . 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. . . . I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. . . . I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
From sermon4kids.com: “Jesus . . . is the Good Shepherd who takes care of us. Jesus says that His sheep know His voice and follow Him.”
Collect: O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: Acts 2:42–47 describes what life was like in the early church. How do these words guide today’s church?
Saint Focus: This week we see an interesting collection of saints: Philip & James, apostles, but why are they paired? [and one doesn’t learn much more about the pairing from the source document]. Bishop Athanasius, labeled as the person to whom we must be grateful for saving Christianity. Or Elisabeth Cruciger, a hymnographer? She was the first female to write a widely accepted hymn (in the Lutheran church) that exorts us to follow Christ. And Monica, who is the mother of Augustine of Hippo—so one possible criterion for sainthood is motherhood? Last in this collection the Martyrs of the Reformation Era, that is, the forty (or so) who lost their lives for holding to their faith. Again, an odd “collection” but also oddly appropriate around this “The Good Shepherd” Sunday. Be sure to follow the link below for a greater description. [most from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 1; Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
- 2; Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, 373
- 3; [Elisabeth Cruciger], Poet & Hymnographer, 1535
- 4; Monica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387
- 5; [Martyrs of the Reformation Era]
Eye Candy: “The Christ-child as the good shepherd“, circa 1675, Murillo from The J. Paul Getty Museum; “Sarcophagus of the Good Shepherd“, Fourth century; “The good shepherd” (2003), art print by Daniel Bonnell
Ear Worm: “Simple Gifts“, by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss; “Shepherd me, O God” by Marty Haugen, sung by SSSJ choir; “My shepherd will supply my need“, arr. by Virgil Thompson, sung by SSSJ choir; “Good Shepherd” by Jefferson Airplane; “The Lord is my shepherd” sung by Whitney Houston, from “The Preacher’s Wife” [all music this week is wonderful. Listen.]
image “the good shepherd” by Anju Jolly, mosaic; downloaded 4/27/20 from https://anjujollymosaics.com/artwork/1656381-Good-Shepherd.html
In today’s gospel (John 10:1-10), Jesus describes the Good Shepherd. What are the qualities he describes that capture your attention?
Excerpted from SOLI website.
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This Sunday is traditionally called Good Shepherd Sunday. The gospel reading each year is a portion of Jesus’ discourse on his relationship to us in the image of a shepherd. Shepherds in his day were so close to their flock that the sheep were each known to the shepherd and they knew and responded to his voice. So we each in baptism have been named by our Lord and have become part of his life.
Today’s reading from Acts describes the life of the infant church. Central to its life was the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. This small but growing community saw itself as a family sharing everything in common.
Even their most characteristic act of worship, the Eucharist, was, like Jewish Sabbath and Passover worship, something that took place in homes.
The reading from 1 Peter continues this early sermon on the life of the baptized. Suffering and trials are still part of the new Christian’s life. By bearing them patiently our lives are conformed more closely with the dying and rising of Jesus. He is our Shepherd and will never lose any of us.
We gather in the Eucharist as a household, a flock, not a group of individuals who simply happen to be in the same place at the same time. We are made into this fellowship by the living presence of Christ in our lives, giving us a unity that transcends all individual differences.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.