Archive for May, 2017

Living lovingly in a world of hate

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Bible reading: John 17

I love you sweetheart… you are so beautiful… I can’t wait to be back with you… I’ve nearly finished the assignment here… I’ve been telling everybody how wonderful you are … It’ll be so good not to have to be parted… to hold each other… not to let go… to dance together as close as possible… I love you so much… I love you too.

It’s kind of embarrassing to walk in on a telephone conversation between lovers. That’s like what we’re doing here in John chapter 17. Jesus is speaking to his Father, whom he left to come to earth to be with us and love us and give his life for us, but now he is about to return to the Father he loves.

He speaks of the work he has completed. He speaks of the love the Father and Son share. He speaks of glorifying one another, that is doing what pleases each other, and therefore puts the other in the best light. Jesus only did what honoured his loving Father. He’s had to suffer for that. He will have to die for that. But you do that for the person you love the most. Jesus suffers and dies and shows how much God loves us all. Jesus knows his Father will honour him again in heaven.

It’s kind of embarrassing walking in on somebody praying to the God they know and love, like we see here. This prayer shows us a lot about the deeply loving relationship between Jesus and the Father. God is love, and here we see this amazing love of God as it beats eternally between the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As we see Jesus praying we see the eternal dance of love in action. Here we see the Trinity working together bringing honour to one another by reaching out to give eternal life to people.

Jesus wants us to eavesdrop on his relationship with the Father, so we can learn how to relate to one another.

Don’t be embarrassed to walk in on Jesus praying. Watch him and learn from him. Listen to him as he prays in the Garden before his death, before his resurrection and Ascension to his loving Father. Learn all you can about this unity between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Learn all you can about this divine love. Listen to every word Jesus speaks through his entire ministry for he says: “whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” Watch everything Jesus does for he says: “whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”

Why is it so important to listen to Jesus praying to his Father and speaking his word, and watch him doing his Father’s work? Because Jesus says the way the Father, Son and Spirit live in love and harmony is the way we are to live. His prayer for us is: “that they may be one, as we are one.” Jesus wants us to eavesdrop on his relationship with the Father, so we can learn how to relate to one another.

There are two pitfalls here. The first is that we think unity is something we have to do by trying harder to love one another, or being ecumenical. Unity is a gift God gives us when we are joined to Christ in Baptism. In baptism we are united with Christ in the one holy catholic and apostolic church. That is God’s gift of love to us. We can’t always see it, but because God gives it to us by grace in Christ, we believe it is so. “Whoever has the Son, has life.”

The second pitfall is that we think we have to maintain this unity by our own efforts – try harder to love people even though you really can’t stand them. Jesus’ prayer points us to the work of the Father for us.

Sixteen times in this chapter Jesus prays the words so that. That means he is speaking about outcomes, results he desires to see in us. Each time Jesus says what he or the Father will do so that the good results will flow into our lives. Listen to his prayer:

Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

This is another way of praying that we will all know and love God so much, and be so thankful to him for all he has done for us in Jesus, that we will always go to him in prayer, and find strength to love one another, even at times when we are under attack.

The wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, and they follow him, and no one can snatch them out of his hand.

As spokes of a wheel are attached to the axle, so we are attached to Jesus Christ and the Father, and through that we are kept safe and loved in a world of hatred.

All pastors of the District have attended the Ambassadors of Reconciliation conference these past weeks. There we have seen how the wolf leads to disunity in the church and breaks relationships and scatters Christians and destroys the church. We Christians are all sinners and like our first parents fall out with one another.

Where do we go when relationships break down? Too often we turn on one another in anger, and we turn to a lawyer for help … Jesus rather calls us to turn to God in prayer

Where do we go when relationships break down? Too often we turn on one another in anger, and we turn to a lawyer for help. The result most often is that relationships are severed, the people of God are hamstrung, the church of God is ridiculed by the world, and its witness to Jesus is torpedoed. Is this the way of God, revealed in Jesus’ prayer?

Jesus rather calls us to turn to God in prayer, and in the strength of God, to turn to one another in love and forgiveness. Jesus had done no sin, yet he allowed himself to be led to the cross to die for our sins, so that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God and to one another. This is the Triune love that the Spirit of God pours into our hearts, so that we love one another, live in unity, and bring glory to God. This is the truth that Jesus dedicated himself to for our sake so that we may be dedicated or sanctified in truth.

There’s a final so that. Jesus prays for his church to be united in love like God:

So that the world may believe that you have sent me… so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me… As the Father has sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

Can you see the pattern God has in his love for the world?

God so loved the world he sent his only Son to love the world and die for its sins on the cross, so all who believe in him will have eternal life.

Then God takes all who believe in him and are saved and united in love to go into the world and live this new life of love, in the midst of all the broken relationships and hatred and litigation and apathy… “so that world may see, and know and believe” that through Jesus Christ there is a way to be saved, and in the church there is a new community of love and forgiveness, and there is a heavenly home, where we can all be with God and see his glory forever.

Don’t be embarrassed to see and hear the Triune God at love. Let God love you into loving, “so that the world may see and know and believe, and God be glorified.” Amen.

Pastor David Christian

Ascension power

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

It is a terrible thing to feel powerless. It is terrible thing to feel helpless in the face of something that threatens your happiness and health.

Imagine what it must be like for those parents with children who live in countries where there is continual hostility and fighting. (East Timor springs to mind this week.) Daily parents must fear for the safety of their children. They fear that one day a stray bullet will take the life of one of their children as they are playing or going to school. How powerless and helpless they must feel! They can’t do anything to stop the fighting. They have no where else to go.

On one Friday afternoon a teenage boy was seen walking home carrying all of his school books. Those who saw him said to one another, “What a nerd! He must be going to spend all his weekend studying.” A bunch of kids ran up to him, knocked the books out of his arms and tripped him so he landed in the dirt. He got up with tears in his eyes, picked up his books and went on. It seems he had cleared out his locker at school for a reason. That night he killed himself.

For a young person to do that, he must have been feeling completely helpless and powerless to bring about any change in his life. He could see no reason to continue his existence. How terrible it is to feel useless and powerless!

There are times when we all feel helpless.
We may feel helpless in the face of illness or surgery.
We may feel powerless to change the direction our children are taking.
Or we might feel incapable of changing our lifestyle, or our habits.
Many people admit they need a power beyond their own power to solve such issues. Some turn to astrology, fate, crystals, science, “someone up there” or some universal force to find a greater power than themselves.

The characters in the Star Wars movies refer to a power that holds the universe together. Humans can tap into this universal force when the odds are against them. When faced with the seemingly hopeless task of defeating a far greater enemy, they encourage one another with, “The Force be with you”. TV series and movies explore the possibility of the existence of powers, you might say supernatural powers, that are greater than anything we know – powers that are able to help us in our everyday problems.

Why am I bringing up all of this here this morning? The answer is this – today we heard from God’s Word about a single, continuous, unbroken power. In the brokenness of our world, there is a power that is far greater than all other powers;
a power that is real;
a power that meets us at the point of our need;
a power that is dependable and consistent.

It is the power that God has shown for us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We see the power of God on the cross when out of love he gave up the life of his Son for our sake. God used his power to load all the sin of all humanity unto the shoulders of the One who died on a cross.
With power, God brought Jesus to life again when he raised him from the grave and then gave him all power and authority when Jesus returned to heaven.

The power that you and I possess, and even the power of the great forces that shape the world, are temporary and in comparison to God are very feeble indeed. God’s power, however, is permanent, and St Paul is at great pains to make sure we know it. He wrote this,
“He raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right side in heaven.
There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers.
He rules over all beings in this world and will rule the future world as well.
God has put all things under the power of Christ,
and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything”
(Eph 1:21-22 CEV (1) ).

It is important to note that Paul emphasises God’s power in the context of prayer. The apostle is praying for the people at Ephesus. He is praying that they might receive the Holy Spirit so that they will know the hope that comes from knowing Jesus. He prays that they might know the great and mighty power of God.

And where does Paul turn to see evidence of this power? He doesn’t turn to creation to find proof of God’s power – the power of the sun and stars, of volcanoes and cyclones, of tidal waves and earthquakes, of sunset and sunrise. If you have ever seen those programs on TV that vividly describe the force of any of these, there can be no doubt that these are indeed powerful.

Neither does Paul look for evidence of God’s power in the events of human history. There we find more often than not the corruption and misuse of power to bring misery and fear into people’s lives. You only need to look at a little country like Afghanistan where the power held by the opposing military forces has brought so much fear, death and grief to the people of the country.

God’s power is based on love. Because of his love for us God used his power to “raise Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.” Christ rules there over all other powers and authorities not as a cruel, distant and unfeeling tyrant, but he rules with love. The Lordship of Jesus is total. All things have been put under his feet (control). He rules the world and the church totally and completely. And in contrast to the way humanity has abused power which has resulted in cruelty and suffering, God’s power and God’s love go hand in hand. The apostle Paul sees the greatest sign of God’s power is his love.

When the disciples saw Jesus ascend to heaven until he was hidden from their sight by a cloud, they must have suddenly felt all alone. They had experienced this kind of feeling once before when Jesus was arrested, tortured and then killed on a cross. They felt helpless and weak against the authorities who could have come at any moment and arrested them. But Jesus came alive again and all was well for a while. But now he was gone again. This time they knew that this would be for a lot longer time. But this time their reaction is quite different. This time there is no fleeing, no hiding, no grief, and no remorse. Instead we are told “they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy and spent all their time in the Temple giving thanks to God” (Luke 24:52,53).

Jesus was gone but they rejoiced. They knew that wherever they went and whatever they did; Jesus would be there with them. From that moment on the disciples were never beyond the reach of Jesus. Previously they could be separated from Jesus by a door or wall or a stormy lake. Now there was no barrier that could keep him from them. Now Jesus was always available and present with power to help, strengthen and comfort them when they needed it the most.

Jesus did go up, ascend and leave the disciples that day, but he left this earth so that he could be the ever and always present God. He is Lord of all and wherever we go on this earth, under the sea or out in the depths of space, he is there – he is there with power.

The power of Jesus isn’t like any power that we know on this earth.
His power redefines, changes our lives. It recreates us as his new people through the water of baptism.
His power is stronger than death – it gives eternal life.
His power forgives even our worst sins.
His power gives us new directions – daily it kills everything that is evil and corrupting in our lives and renews us as his chosen people.
His power gives us his body and blood in a piece of bread and a sip of wine.
His power gives us faith through the Word of God.

He is ready to use his power in our lives, our families, and our work places; he is ready to use his power when we are overcome with fear, worry, grief, and pain. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven he said, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). That means that Jesus not only has the power to be present in our lives as we come to terms with what is happening, but as Lord of lords and King of kings he has the power to do something about it.
When we learn that we have a serious health problem;
when we hear the news that someone close to us has died;
when we worry about money, our children, our job or lack of it;
when we are upset, hurt, guilty, angry or depressed;
when we have to make difficult decisions about the future;
we are reminded that the ascended Jesus is close by and ready to use his power.

When we pray we are praying to the one who is the “supreme Lord over all things”. We know that he has the power and the knowledge to answer our prayers in the ways that are the best for us. He is waiting to use his power on our problems. He is waiting for us to call on his name. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb 4.16). Because Christ rules with grace and love, we know that he doesn’t treat us the way we deserve to be treated because of our sin, but rather he understands our predicament and gives us divine help and strength.

I can say with confidence that we don’t take seriously the fact that Jesus is Lord.
If we are serious about God’s power in our lives and certain that God uses his power everyday in our lives then we would honour, love and trust him more than we do.
If people are certain about the lordship of Jesus, then this church would be packed with worshippers every Sunday.
If people are sure that Jesus rules with love in the very ordinary affairs of their lives, forgiving their sins, strengthening their faith in times of trouble, then they would respond with praise and worship.
If we seriously believe that Jesus is not some distant deity, but walks this earth with us, then our lives would be real testimonies to the lordship of Jesus as people see in us love, patience, tolerance and understanding and a firm belief that Jesus can handle anything in our lives.
If we seriously believe that we are the children of our loving Lord what an impact this would have on the church. Nothing would stand in our way of serving our Lord with whatever time and talents and money that God has made available to us.

We thank God that Jesus is more than just a powerful king – that kind of absolute power could be too scary. But Jesus is our loving Lord. He knows our weaknesses and lack of commitment to doing what God wants us to do. That’s why he died for us. He is our loving Lord who empowers us to be his people and to make a difference in the church in the world.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy

 

The Four B Club

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

A congregation has a group for elderly people. It meets in the church hall every fortnight and is well attended. It was a great time of fellowship and encouraging one another. It was called the Four-B Club. A newcomer to the group asked why it was called the Four-B Club. The answer was simple: The four Bs stand for Baldness, Bifocals, Bunions, and Bulge.

Growing older is something that affects every person on this planet, from the tiniest baby to the oldest person. Some of you are a long way from being a senior member of our society, but time will go fast and next thing you too will be wondering where the years have gone. We are all heading for the Four-B Club, that’s, if we are not there already. God created time when he created day and night, the seasons and the years. God created the days and years and said that it was very good.

But this good creation of God was affected when sin came into the world through the disobedience of the first man and woman. The passing of time began to have a negative effect on God’s creation. People and all things in this world began to show the signs of age. Time has been ticking away and everything you can see and feel and touch has been getting older. The process of aging that we are all familiar with changes people, animals and plants to the point that they became weak and eventually died.

In Psalm 90 the writer compares the shortness of human life to God who is from everlasting to everlasting. He says, “Seventy years is all we have— eighty years, if we are strong; yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow; life is soon over, and we are gone” (Psalm 90:10). Then the psalmist is quick to explain why our life is so short. It’s because of sin. Death is God’s judgement on sin and the brevity of our life has been brought about because of our rebellion against God.

The effect that time has on people is really obvious to us when we meet up with a family we haven’t seen for some time. We can hardly believe our eyes at the changes that have occurred. The children are all so grown up, the parents have aged and perhaps put on a little weight, their hair is a little greyer, or they have changed because of sickness or some other distressing time. Others say the same about us. As the saying goes, “Time doesn’t stand still for anyone”; we are all getting older.

As we journey through life there are significant moments that remind us that with age come changes in our lifestyles. We realise that a certain part of our life is gone, never to be recaptured or relived.
For instance, the day you completed your schooling may have been a day of rejoicing on the one hand, but on the other, it marked the end of a part of your life that will never be repeated.
What about the day your last child leaves home and you wonder where all the years have gone.
Or what about the day you retired realising that what you had done over so many years was now finished.
There are those defining moments when we realise that things will be different from now on. The passing of time has seen to that.

What can we do about this? Some people over the years have searched for the ‘fountain of youth’ or something similar that will wind back the clock and give them extended youthfulness. Some try to slow down the aging process with face-lifts, pills and potions that will give them a fresh face look. In our youth-oriented culture people have a fear of looking old.

The Greeks called the fear of old age ‘geraphobia’. Those who have geraphobia want to live longer and never grow old. In fact some people are highly insulted if reference is made to how old they are. To some degree we all suffer from geraphobia. We fear that one day we might end up in a nursing home, unable to feed ourselves or control our bodily functions, not able to remember anything and maybe not even recognise our family when they come to visit.

When the fear of growing old grips our hearts or we see what getting older is doing to our bodies, or we see what age is doing to those whom we love, how do we handle this? How can we see our aging in a positive way and growing older as something meaningful and acceptable?

Let me start in this way. If you visit the southern states during winter you would find that most of the trees lose their leaves and their branches are completely bare. If you didn’t know any better you would say they were dead. From the ground to the upper most branches there is not a green leaf in sight. But we know that the trees are not dead. You may not be able to see the life in the tree, but it is there, and that’s what is important. Without that life, the tree really would be only a piece of dead wood.

Our lives can be compared to the trees as they go through the seasons. As time goes on, just as the trees lose their beauty and look dead, so too it happens with us. Time marches on with us, the things we were once able to do become more difficult, events and people become memories, and as we approach the autumn of our lives we realise that a large part of our life is over.

But behind the dead looking limbs and branches there is still life, waiting to burst out in fresh, green life. We know that the resurrected Jesus has won for us eternal life with him in heaven. Time may be marching on for us now and we can’t do anything about it, and as much as we would like it to stop so that we can accomplish all that we would like to in the years we have left, we have the assurance that our dying is not the end of us, but the beginning of a glorious new spring.

We heard Jesus say to the disciples in today’s Gospel reading, “Do not be worried and upset. Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1,2). Jesus is reminding us that even though we will go through the autumn and winter of our lives that doesn’t mean the end. There awaits all those who believe in Jesus as the way, the truth and the life a glorious spring where there is new life and new beginnings and a new home where there will be no such things as aging, the aches and pains that aging brings, or dying.

Though the writer of Psalm 90 is well aware of how his years are passing away and that nothing can recapture the years that have passed, nevertheless he is not pessimistic about life. He is not all doom and gloom when it comes to growing old. His confidence is in God. As he says at the very beginning of the psalm: Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Because God is eternal and gracious, because he will always be there and will always be our loving God, life has an enduring and lasting quality about it. The years may be passing away, but beyond this life and in spite of the grave, there is life through Jesus our Saviour.

As we wait for the day when we are called from this life to that glorious new spring, God promises, “I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is gray. I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4). He states that his love for us will never fail and he is always ready to help us deal with all that growing older brings. We may not know what the future may bring but we do know that his promise stands, “I made you and I will take care of you even when you are old and your hair is gray”.

You see the Bible always looks at life in the context of God’s relationship with us. This applies to every stage of life including that time when we notice the changes that aging is bringing into our lives. Even if we do end up in a nursing home with our minds and bodies failing, God’s promise still stands. We can still rely on him to be our strength and help even when we are the frailest and even when our memory fails or our speech falters. He still promises, “I will give you help and rescue you”.

One of the problems of this world is that people no longer see their lives in a relationship with God. They have broken away from God. All too often life is seen as a once only cycle. We are born, we live, we grow old, and we die. And that’s it. Once you have reached the autumn years of your life, and approaching the lifeless winter, that’s all that can be expected from life. There are many people who face the passing years with a kind of hopelessness, a sense of purposelessness and aimlessness.

But when we view our life from God’s perspective we get a whole new outlook. Jesus wants nothing but happiness for us and has gone to extreme lengths to make sure that we are happy now and forever in eternity. He assures us that he is with us always and that when the time comes for us to leave this life he wants us to be in the place where he is – that is in heaven. And as we move toward the end of our earthly life he reminds us that he is our everlasting God who provides us with help and comfort as we face all the fears and worries that growing older brings. He provides us with the reason for wanting to make the most of the time we have in this life, enjoying life, and serving and helping others in the way that only those can who have experienced the passing of the years.

Whether we are talking about getting our first job, or taking up new studies or an apprenticeship as a young worker, the responsibilities of being parents and the anxieties this brings as you watch your children grow from babies to young adults, or your own lapses of memory, failing strength, the wrinkles that worry you, your concern over your middle age spread, all are signs that we are all getting older, that we are passing from one season to the next.

One day baldness, bifocals, bunions, and bulge will become characteristic of people in your age group. When that day comes let’s greet it with a song of praise on our lips rather than moans and groans.
We have a God who is faithful to his promises and will take care of us and help us even when our hair is gray.
We thank God that he sees wrinkles and unsteady steps as something beautiful.
We praise God that the winter of our life will give way to the glorious new spring of eternity.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy

 

Do sheep have free will?

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

   “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 

On Good Shepherd Sunday, I ask one of the philosophical questions of the ages that have stumped many:  Do sheep have free will?  We usually understand “free” as in “free will” meaning free to do anything one wants.

Then yes, sheep seem to have free will:  on their own, they will do whatever they want and so they easily get lost, upset, terrified, wanting luscious green grass until overgrazing and the like kills them, prone to the thief and the robber. Yes, sheep, if not guided, led, called, cared for, do whatever they want and that means injury and death.

That definition of “free will”, doing whatever one wants, does not seem so free, does it?  There seems to be a wilful stubbornness on the sheep’s part to do it my way and that is not free, but bondage, bondage of the will.  Do sheep have free will?  Answer:  No.

The sheep will go off on their own.  We all like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way. Yet, the will, the heart can be set free in the sight and care of the shepherd, trusting in Him alone:  to feed, to give drink, to be cared for, to be protected from enemies, from wolves to the weather.

“And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name throughout all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24: 47) There is the voice of the shepherd. Recognize it and follow if you are a sheep.

There is only way to enter the sheepfold that is the Church:  going through the Good Shepherd.  He invites, guides and lets us in, night after night, day after day.

Sheepfolds were low stonewall enclosures which did not have wooden gates, they would probably rot too quickly exposed to the elements, but the shepherd himself was the gate, the door, as you can see on the screen.

The shepherd night after night, laid his body on the line for his charge.  He would not flee the sheep when they were attacked.  A shepherd’s voice would reassure them in the storm raging in the night.  The Good Shepherd does not flee the sheep, nor fleece them, like the hawkers of false doctrines who smile pretty and talk about your best life now, that is your own life, not the Lord’s indestructible life He gives freely to His sheep. Jesus promises the abundant life, His life, His flesh and His blood, not our flesh getting everything I ever wanted. The Good Shepherd’s hand is imprinted with the mark of the nails.  This shepherd laid down His life for the sheep, for you.

Like a sheep on a shepherd’s shoulder, you do not have to lug your sins around or pretend they do not exist or minimize their infection.  They are on the Good shepherd’s shoulders as He was nailed to the Cross. Jesus is quite clear, He is not any shepherd.  He and His Father are one, one God. He alone has carried the full brunt of the just Law of God and it’s punishment for our sake.

Jesus is saying this is what His Church is like:  a sheepfold.  Not grand and glorious is it?  People may think the magnificent church buildings of  Europe  and our nation are great to sight see, but will complain about the people who actual worship there are not a sight to see, “a bunch of hypocrites”.  Yes, that’s right, sinners, sheep. Kind of like a cop at a crime, nothing much to see here, move on…but don’t move on, taste and see the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever..

In the parable of today’s Gospel, the Lord Christ compares it [the Christian Church] to a sheep-fold. He compares the Holy Spirit to the Gate-guard, and Himself to the Door into this sheep pen, [as well as] to the Shepherd of the sheep. It is precisely for these reasons that these two items are placed side by side in the Third Article of our Christian faith, where we say: I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.

The first Christians on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit gathered them together, baptized into Christ Jesus, the Lord  showed them where to feed and be fed:  they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  Anything else is junk food, a cheat.  Luke tells us they  were joyful.  Also, Jesus concludes the parable of the lost sheep, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Mothers and fathers give oversight to their children but they cannot over look them and their actions.  The price of parenting is eternal vigilance.  Getting children from point A to  point B day after day safely, with much prayer so they won’t be lost is so akin to shepherding.  Keeping them away from the enemy, Satan, who has done quite a number on a culture astray.  Sheep going astray is not some prosaic, pastoral scene, sheep going astray means only thing:  death.

Parents bringing children to the Lord’s House, His sheepfold, not keeping them away from Jesus, their Good Shepherd.  In my cynical moments, it seems that these days it is not 1 sheep who is lost, but 99, yet I do not know the ways the Lord is working, and He is working still.  With the Good Shepherd we need to rejoice in Him over one sinner who repents. There are parents in households and parents in the Church; pastors.

…the Chief Shepherd. He, in turn, has under-shepherds, which consist of all faithful teachers and preachers. In keeping with Christ’s example, they are to faithfully graze the flock, direct them to the right Door, and guide the little lambs to Christ. Those who do otherwise, says Christ, are thieves and murderers, for they take away Christ’s glory; and they kill the souls of men through false doctrine, just as death devours little lambs in a poisoned pasture. (Pr. Johann Gerhard)

The voice of the Shepherd is peace for it is the Word of our forgiveness and peace.

My sheep here My voice He says, and I know them and they follow Me, and I give them eternal Life. Just as Christ  teachings are a complete rule of faith, so also is His life a clear, complete mirror for every good work. Learn from Me, He says in Matt, 11-29, as if to say: You have enough to learn about My love, about My patience, My humility, meekness, friendliness to do you for the rest of your lives. As a result, you will well forget about the commandments of men with which you serve God fruitlessly and in vain, Matt. 15:9. 0 God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, highly praised in all eternity: Give us all such an obedient, willing heart for following the voice of Christ in doctrine and life. (Pr. Johann Gerhard)

The Good Shepherd has the wounds of the Cross and His sheep have wounds, but He has branded His sheep with His Cross, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Pastor Mark Schroeder