Sermon for April 25, 2021 Fourth of Easter “I Heard the Voice…”
Since we have had the capacity to speak and hear we have been devising methods to be heard. Since the time Jesus said ‘if you have ears to hear then hear’ and we have been saying ‘WHAT’.
I heard the voice…implies that we actually listened but we are prone to say ‘what’.
The theme of Jesus as a shepherd or the shepherd continues this week with the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. As such Jesus goes to great lengths to ensure that all know his voice. As a son, brother, father, husband and many other things I know that there is much to learn when listening. There are the words and there is the tone of the words. There is the gentle tone of instruction and there is the stop in your tracks tone that implies imminent danger.
In the first letter to John there is part of the teaching for today, ‘we know love by this, that Jesus lay down his life for us…Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action…how does god’s love abide in anyone who sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?’ and a little further on ‘believe in Jesus and love one another just as he asked us’.
And we say…what.
In the Gospel teaching Jesus says ‘I am the good shepherd…the good shepherd gives all to the sheep even life itself.’
And we say…what.
Our what is not totally unjustified. I and others in my circle have been wondering how Jesus is relevant in the 21st century. It is not an easy thing to figure out and much like herding ducks or maybe sheep. Christians no longer claim rights to being the biggest influencer in Canadian society. In 2011 61% of people identified as Christian and in 2018 that number was 55%, also 64% of all people said religion/church has a declining influence on national and personal life. The fastest growing group is unaffiliated. So what has happened to the message and theme of love and loving action?
God is not unaware of the unfolding adventures of humans. Perhaps we are being led into a contemporary wilderness time, to be refined and redefined, to gain new perspective while not losing the witness of the past 100 or even 1000 years. To be the remnant from which a new understanding of God and Jesus’ purpose is revealed.
This, like the wilderness times of the past is challenging and we wish it were over but training takes time and patience and working through the difficult times. This is different than preparing for the second coming, that is a time that we cannot determine but continually prepare for. This is a time for refining the Good News for our day.
Maybe the image of sheep is still appropriate, they will eat the same thing from the same field even if the food is gone and they are eating roots. In the absence of a shepherd the sheep will do what they do. With a shepherd to guide and lead the sheep will have good pasture and clean water.
The was and is to follow the teachings of Jesus. To love God, others and self, to be seekers of peace and justice and to be a welcome of the stranger. We are so accustomed to saying…what… that we become deaf to the voice of the one who loved us into being.
I know that many hear the voice of God and Jesus calling them to listen and to action. Now as in any time of Christianity it is risky to publicly live into that calling. None the less, Jesus will continue to call your name until your what becomes a…yes…here I am.