• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Easter 4B RCL

Acts 4: 5-12
Psalm 23
1 John 3: 16-24
John 10: 11-18

Our reading from the Book of Acts has a story behind it.  It is the account of the first healing reported in the Book of Acts. Peter and John had been on their way to pray at the temple in Jerusalem. On their way, they saw some people carrying a lame man and placing him beside the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg for money.

The man asks Peter and John for alms. He has been lame from birth and this is how he earns his living. Peter tells him that he does not have money. Peter says that his gift to this man is to say to him, “In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, stand up and walk,” Peter takes the man’s hand and helps him to stand, and the text says that, while this was happening, “his feet and ankles were made strong.” The man enters the temple with Peter and John, “walking and leaping and praising God.”

For years people have known this man who has lain by the Beautiful Gate asking for alms. Now they see him leaping into the air and praising God. They think Peter is a miracle worker. In our passage for last Sunday, Peter was making it clear that this healing is the work of God. Peter preaches the good news of Christ and calls the people to repent.

The religious authorities don’t like this new teaching, so they have Peter and John arrested. Our reading today is Peter’s response.  He and John are being questioned because of a good deed done to someone who was sick. The healing was done in the Name of Jesus, the chief cornerstone who was rejected by the authorities.

One scholar says, “The authorities have the power to place in custody those who did a good deed to a lame man, but they do not have access to the power that healed the man.” As St. Francis pointed out, we are channels for God’s peace, love, and healing.

In today’s psalm and gospel, we have the beloved image of our Lord as the Good Shepherd. In all of our readings for today, we are looking at two opposing concepts of power. One is what we would call imperium, or tyranny, the kind of power that arrests people for doing healings outside the established structure in order to protect its own turf, and the other is the true authority of Christ, the kind of power that heals, that places love and compassion first, and leads people into new life, the kind of power in vulnerability that gives its own life in order to pour the love and energy of that life into us.

Today’s gospel follows Jesus’ healing of the man born blind. Remember, Jesus made a little poultice of saliva and dirt, put it on the man’s eyes, told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam, and, amazingly, the man could see. The authorities didn’t like that, either. They questioned the man over and over. And finally they confronted Jesus. After a short discussion of blindness and light and seeing, we get the distinct idea that the spiritual leaders are quite blind in a spiritual sense. Whenever we see Jesus pointing out the errors of the spiritual leaders of his time, that is our reminder to work very hard and pray very hard to avoid falling into the same mistakes.

When Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd, he is contrasting himself with the kinds of leaders who punish people for acts of healing and compassion. As we carry out our baptismal ministry, this image of the good shepherd is one of our major blueprints. So let’s look at it carefully.

First, the biblical shepherd is out in front of the flock. There are no border collies doing the herding. The shepherd is out in front, spotting any possible dangers. He or she leads the flock to good pasture, to pure water, to safety. The reality we need to get from this is that Jesus has gone ahead of us through anything we might experience. Success, failure, loss, disappointment, confusion, illness, injury, everything. He has gone through it. No matter what we may experience, he has been there and he is there with us as we go through it.

Second, the biblical shepherd takes risks in order to protect the sheep. Unlike to religious leaders who were questioning Peter and John and Jesus and the blind man, the shepherd is not out to protect his turf, keep himself or herself safe, and accumulate more and more power. The shepherd is there to nurture the sheep. See how this resonates with those two views of power in the readings.

In biblical times and even today in the Middle East, the sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they follow their own shepherd. Various scholars write about this. Sometimes the shepherds will bring the sheep in to the village for the night and there is a safe place for the sheep. Sometimes it will have a high wall and a thick gate guarded by someone overnight. Sometimes it will be a fenced in area or even a cave. Several shepherds will place their flocks there together. In the morning, the shepherds will come to get their sheep. As each shepherd gives his unique call, his flock will follow. Each shepherd knows his sheep. The sheep are often named. This is a very intimate relationship.

Our Good Shepherd knows us in and out and loves us, warts and all. He calls us to follow him. He knows all the good water holes and the plants to avoid. He has ways of fending off wolves. He is our leader on this journey.

The journey is not about protecting our position and power. It’s not about making sure that nobody heals anybody without our approval. It’s not about accumulating wealth and power and prestige and being able to control people. Jesus is constantly wanting to share his ministry with us so that more people will be healed, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Jesus does not hold on to power. He shares it. He calls us to be channels for his love and healing.

May we listen for the call of our Good Shepherd. May we love and serve others in his name.

 

%d bloggers like this: