It is one of those Sundays where the Lectionary “makes” us talk about sheep and shepherds. I quite enjoy “sheep and shepherd Sundays.” They provide an opportunity to talk about how silly sheep are and tell some funny (I hope) stories about sheep. More importantly, this Sunday is an opportunity to talk about how appropriate the image of us as sheep really is. Not just from the perspective of “we are hopeless and without a shepherd we will just wander off and do who knows what” (true as that may be) but it is also a chance to talk about what is good about sheep.
This Sunday the focus as much as anything was on part of John 10, namely, “he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:4 NRSV). As silly as sheep may be, as helpless as sheep may be, they have the capacity to do at least this one thing, learn the voice of their shepherd. This is one of the areas that we can learn from sheep; we can learn to recognize and depend on the voice of our shepherd. The difficulty is, of course, that Jesus doesn’t speak to us the same way a shepherd speaks to sheep. The words that Jesus says to us don’t leave his physical mouth creating waves that bounce off our physical ear drums which our brains convert into meaning . . . at least not often. Rather we hear Jesus talking to us through many other ways. Jesus speaks to us through Holy Scripture, through our faith communities, through the words and actions of friends, through nature, through silence, and most importantly through the Holy Spirit. It takes practice to learn how to hear Jesus but we can do it.
By way of explanation, I don’t know which sermon you listen to, they tend to be similar but definitely not identical, but if you choose to listen to the Knox Presbyterian sermon the rather abrupt way it begins is not a technical glitch but that is actually how I began. I’m not sure exactly what was happening at Knox but I arrived later than I would like after being delayed by new construction and the smoke from a field being burned off so I may have been a bit rattled by that; in short, don’t adjust your set 🙂
Knox Presbyterian Let’s talk sheep and shepherds! (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Let’s talk sheep and shepherds! (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)