Monday, April 30, 2007

Sermon: 4th Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday…

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” Our beautiful stained glass window shows Jesus holding a sheep and the rest following him, they hear his voice and they follow him…

Those who are baptized here are given a sheep at their baptism, reminding them and us that we each are added to his flock…

At the next service, I will tell the Children the story of the Good Shepherd through our Godly Play Curriculum, where it is called the Good Shepherd and World Communion… The words tell us a delightful story:

“There was once someone who did such wonderful things and said such amazing things that people wondered who he was. Finally they couldn’t help it. They had to ask him who he was.” When they finally asked him, he said, “I am the good shepherd.” “I know each one of the sheep by name and they know the sound of my voice.” “When I take the sheep from the sheepfold, they follow me.” “I walk in front of the sheep to show them the way.” “I show them the way to the good grass.”

“This is the table of the Good Shepherd (the altar).” “Here is the bread and the wine of the Good Shepard. Sometimes it seems like we need to have a something on the table to remind us that this is the table of the Good Shepherd, but the Good Shepherd is in the bread and the wine, so we don’t really need anything to remind us.” “Sometimes someone comes to read the very words of the Good Shepherd, and to give us the bread and wine.” “Sometimes the people of the world come to this table and even the children come.”

(words are from Lesson 11, Volume 4 of the Complete Guide to Godly Play)

And the world shares communion with their creator through Jesus, the Good Shepherd. But as I consider the Good Shepherd, I also think of his love toward others, toward his sheep. I think of Christopher Marlowe’s pastoral poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” from 400 years ago and what it might say to us…

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
by Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields
Woods or steepy mountain yields

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flower, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

And I think of Jesus leading his sheep, and I hear the voice of the passionate shepherd calling our souls to come follow and be loved. It is Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who calls to all of us this day, calls our souls, our bodies, all of us, to be amongst his sheep, to feast at this altar, to live with him and be his love. May we when we hear his voice, know it is the Good Shepherd who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads. Amen.

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