Humble Walk is so lucky to have seminarians. Last week, we were lucky to hear words of hope from Amy Hanson. Today, Peter Clark reminded us that we are cared for by a very Good Shepherd. Our community is a living laboratory for church leaders. It's a gift to us, certainly, and also a gift we give to the greater church. Find Peter's sermon below.
The Lord Be With You
And Also With You
Let us pray:
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
We’ve been talking this Easter season about where we see resurrection in our daily lives. We’ve seen it in moments like Junior High lock-ins, in new chickens, and in the sick being made well. Amongst all of these day to day resurrections, it occurs to me that on the national level we’ve had quite a few opportunities to see resurrection out of death. Probably a few more than we’d care to.
For example, what happened in Boston this week. Two young men detonated two bombs at the finish line of the Boston marathon for reasons that we may never fully understand. The aftermath is devastating and people are trying to understand why this has happened and what would lead someone down a path that would lead them to hurt so many people in such a dramatic fashion.
In all of these tragedies, we often take comfort in the words of Psalm 23, and remind ourselves that we are God’s sheep and he comforts and guides us through these terrifying times. But what does that mean, and are we really God’s sheep?
One of the most difficult parts of today’s Gospel text is when Jesus says that “you do not belong to my sheep.” It’s probably one of the harsher things that he says to a group people who aren’t in authority. I’ve struggled with this text. I even considered not using it today, but that’s usually a pretty good sign that I ought to. I think what he’s saying here is that people who need solid and concrete answers to the hard philosophical and theological questions in life are never going to get them from Christ.
Jesus doesn’t give easy answers, and yet he still asks us to follow him despite of that. He wants the people interested in exploring the questions and willing to accept that there may not be an answer that we will understand. We are his sheep if we hear his voice, see the wisdom in his words, and desire to follow and understand more. God’s promise today is that we cannot be snatched out of his hand; and that is something worth celebrating.
Though, it can be difficult to come together today and celebrate after such a tragedy; especially yet another in a series of tragedies that we’ve seen in such a relatively short period of time. Yet out of each tragedy, we have seen people coming together and helping one another. Fred Rogers has a way of thinking about it that I find particularly helpful:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
I’ve seen people helping by raising money to pay medical bills. I’ve seen it in the medical professionals who had finished running a marathon only minutes before they heard bomb blasts go off, and then ran towards the carnage rather than away. I’ve seen it in the churches in Boston who are opening their doors to the families of the wounded and delivering meals to those that an overloaded hospital system has already sent home. In all of this, I see people helping, and I see God present and active in the midst of tragedy.
Frederick Buechner says that we can’t use God to make tragedies unhappen “any more than we can use a flood of light to put out a fire or Psalm 23 to find our way home in the dark.” Indeed, the Psalmist acknowledges that God leads us THROUGH the valley of death, not around it, but we can trust in God’s comforting presence and His ability to lead us through calamity and death. We can be the helpers that others look to in the face of tragedy and disaster, we can heed Christ’s call to feed his lambs, and we can do that with faith and joy in the fact that we have a God who loves us, who will not let us be taken away from his grasp, and who wants us to be made whole that he may wipe every tear from our eyes.