Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 21, 2013
Acts 9:36-43 Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17 St. John 10:22-3 onnday of 0
Hymns: 371, 410, 314, 388
“My sheep hear my voice … no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
The early church was a much different church from the church today. The Gospels were written as the church was struggling against many forces in society. So you might wonder what the lessons of the Gospels can hold for us today, in such a different place and in such a different time.
But often the messages of the Gospel are timeless. The church has used and reinterpreted the lessons of the scriptures though out history. The church wants to make the lessons practical and applicable in every time and in constantly changing circumstances.
The early church faced a lot of struggles. And so do we today. Admittedly much different struggles today, but struggles nevertheless. And so we look to the scriptures for comfort and guidance.
We hear the voice of Jesus and are comforted in that voice. Jesus provides a familiar voice in the struggles and challenges we face in the world and in the struggles and challenges we face as a congregation.
Congregational live can be a challenge. Learning to live together in a faith community. Living to live as a faith community as we struggle with differences.
It is amazing the things that parishes can find challenging. I was reading this week about a sculpture entitled “Jesus the Homeless”. It is a power presentation of Jesus depicted as a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench. The only way you can tell it is Jesus is by the nail marks in the feet. Sadly two cathedrals turned it down. Jesus was homeless once again. This could have been a powerful message speaking to the poor and homeless in the community, giving them a chance to hear the voice of the shepherd. But the chance was missed.
Sadly those in power could not hear the voice of Jesus in that situation. I think for most of us it is hard to hear the voice of Jesus unless we hear a voice very much like our own. All too often we can only see Jesus when we see someone like ourselves. The idea of a homeless Jesus is a scary thing for many people.
We covet the familiar in our lives and in our parish. And that presents a challenge for any parish in transition as St. Peter’s is right now. It is only in being willing to try the change will we have the opportunity to grow and develop. And yet in the midst of it, we can rely on the familiar voice of God in our life in the face of change.
St. Peter’s needs to be open to new things and change. When you call a new parish priest there will be lots of change and transition. It will be a challenge to every one. The next priest will bring talents, skills, and abilities which may be different. She or he will have different strengths and weaknesses. But you can count on the familiar voice of Jesus to be in your midst as you go through the challenge of change.
You may be challenged with new ways of doing things. You may be challenged with different attitudes and ideas. But the familiar voice of Jesus will be there with you, guiding, building, and strengthening.
The key is to be open to new ideas and the opportunity to experience life in a community of faith in a new and different way. And yet, each of us will still have the familiar voice of Jesus with us in this journey.
Will we be willing to trust in God as we go through the next change, or will we, like those rejecting the sculpture of Jesus the Homeless, reject, fight and fear the new and different and challenging. I pray that God will give us all the strength to embrace the change, relying on the familiar voice of Jesus speaking to us, kindly, gently, lovingly, and encouragingly as we move forward.