The Good Shepherd
By Vicar Lisa
This upcoming Sunday, we will celebrate the 4th Sunday of Easter often referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Jesus is called the “gate” of the sheep in the day’s gospel and we will read the beloved 23rd Psalm. Our readings focus on sheep and we are to understand that the church is like a flock of sheep and we are led by the Good Shepherd.
The risen Christ opens the way to abundant life. He anoints our heads with oil and guides us beside the still waters of our baptism. Our Hymn of the day is an old favorite, “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us.”
Leading as a shepherd is an interesting concept. Unlike cattle, which have to be driven from the rear, sheep prefer a different leadership style. Sheep apparently have an uncanny ability to form a trusting relationship with their shepherds. They want to be led rather than driven. Interesting. Same here!
I read that a sleeping flock of sheep will not stir if their own shepherd steps gingerly through their midst. But let a stranger so much as set foot near the flock, and the sheep will startle awake as though a firecracker had gone off! In the Middle East to this day, you may see three or four Bedouin shepherds all arrive at a watering hole around sundown. Within minutes these different flocks of sheep mix together to form one big, amalgamated flock. But the various shepherds don’t worry about this mix-up because each shepherd knows that when it’s time to go, all he has to do is give his own distinctive whistle, call, or play his shepherd’s flute in his own unique fashion, and all of his sheep will separate themselves from the mixed-up herd to follow the shepherd they’ve come to trust.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1) Pastor Clay and I sat by our friend Dale last week when he took his last breaths. We were able to pray for him, read scripture passages, and of course, Psalm 23 was in the mix. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4) What a privilege to be able to share the end of his journey on this earth, knowing that he is now living with the Lord.
Thank you, Lord, for leading us through the valley of the shadow of death. We know you are with us, guiding us, leading us, comforting us. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in this world that our feet lose the trail, and we take our eyes off the Good Shepherd. Thank you for reminding us that when we lose sight of you, you will return us to your fold. Thank you for being a gentle leader who loves his sheep. AMEN.
Sunday, April 30, 2023
10 a.m. Worship with Holy Communion
Worship Leaders: Vicar Lisa Rygiel, Mike McNeil, & Joni Jones
April 30, 2023 Good Shepherd Sunday/Fourth Sunday of Easter
Brought over from the second Sunday of Easter in the medieval one-year lectionary is the beloved Good Shepherd Sunday. In this “figure of speech” as used in the Bible, shepherds represent the archetypal Israelite past, and sheep, far from being dirty and stupid, are gifts from God that give life to the community.
The church understands Christ as both the shepherd and the gate, itself as the flock, and the enclosure as the church. According to John, sheep are a communal metaphor for shared abundant life. In John’s gospel are eleven passages in which the name of God, I am, is tied to an image, and today’s selection includes one of them: I am the gate. Christians have seen the sacraments as the pasture for the flock.
Christians have seen in Luke’s inspiring description a goal for the Christian life. Baptism is to lead to care for the poor and to the praise of God.
1 Peter 2:19-25
This passage from 1 Peter is moved out of its sequence so that the reference to God as shepherd in verse 25 fits with the dominant metaphor of the day. Beginning the reading in verse 19, omitting the verse addressed to slaves, exemplifies the task of the lectionary: to select biblical passages that have relevance of the contemporary Christian community. The whole community is now guarded by Christ the shepherd.
Zion's Lutheran Church