A Homily for the First Wednesday of Lent
Text: St. Matthew 18:10-14
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Amen.
For a few years now, I’ve preached the same sermon at the early service on Christmas Eve – one written by my father some twenty-five years ago. It’s the story of Eliezer the Unreliable, a shepherd in the hills outside Bethlehem. And does anyone remember what Eliezer says the number one rule of being a shepherd is?
Never, ever, EVER leave the sheep!
Sheep are dumb! They’re prone to wander into a briar patch and get stuck or walk into a river and drown. Predators might try to eat one for dinner. And of course, sheep are valuable, so shepherds have to protect them from bandits as well.
So tonight, when Jesus brings up the image of a good and trustworthy shepherd, he depicts a person who…
…leaves ninety-nine sheep to search out the one. Continue reading “Lost Sheep”
A Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Texts: Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; St. John 10:22-30
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd. Amen.
We’ve been dropped at the end of a familiar story: “I am the Good Shepherd,” says our Lord. (Indeed, this is Good Shepherd Sunday, and over the three years of the lectionary cycle, we make our way through the entirety of this extended metaphor. This time last year, we read that more famous portion of the text.) The Lord is our shepherd – not just any shepherd but the Good Shepherd. Christ isn’t some mere hired hand who runs off at the first sign of trouble but rather the very one who seeks out the lost sheep, who wades into the swift waters to rescue the drowning, who crawls through the briar patch to free the ensnarled, who fights off bandits and wrestles wolves to save the lambs. Far from the clean-faced and bed-sheet-clad shepherds of modern Nativity plays, Christ is the shepherd who smells like the sheep and lays down his life for the flock.
Hearing this imagery, the crowd is… Continue reading “Hear the Good Shepherd’s Voice”
A Homily for the Fifth Wednesday in Lent
Text: Saint John 10:1-18
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd. Amen.
When we think of tonight’s Gospel text, we only hear four words: “I am the Good Shepherd.” It’s such a familiar text, connected with so many rich symbols. But we must keep reading to really and truly understand what Christ is getting at. The Good Shepherd, Christ tells us, is the one who lays down his life for the sheep – a very real possibility for those charged with caring for such valuable commodities. Hired hands may turn and flee in the face of danger, but a good shepherd will risk it all to save the flock, even if it means doing battle with thieves and wrestling with wolves. Continue reading “A Good Shepherd in the Lenten Wilderness”