Streetly All Saints Church

Sermon - Sunday 26 April 2015 - 9.30am Service

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John 10.11-18

‘I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.’

Two Eskimos who had lived all of their lives in the arctic cold regions travelled to Miami. It was a new world for them. On the bus to the hotel they saw people water skiing. Having seen only their kayaks and the other hand propelled boats one of them asked:

‘How is it that that boat can travel so fast?’

The other man watched for a few minutes and then replied

‘Man on string push it’.

He’d got it the wrong way around hadn’t he?

Well maybe we do the same with a shepherd and his sheep. We are familiar from One Man and His Dog with the picture of a shepherd herding his sheep from behind or at least from a distance. But as you probably know that was not the case with Palestinian shepherds two thousand years ago. There the shepherd led his sheep. He went ahead.  We read of a shepherd leading in the scriptures:

The great Shepherd psalm is Ps. 23 which speaks of the Lord the Shepherd leading his people into green pastures. And again in Ps 81 ‘Hear o Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Israel like a flock.’ So the shepherd leads his flock. Often in the midst of wild and dangerous countryside. He goes first to make a safe way for the sheep, looking out for danger, protecting them. Hence the shepherd is prepared to lay down his life for his sheep.

No wonder the image of the Good Shepherd has been such a popular image for Christians. But if we’re not careful, it’s too easy to over sentimentalise the image of the Good Shepherd. Here are two things we can note about the image of the Good Shepherd in Johns Gospel.

Firstly what does the image of the Good Shepherd tell us about Jesus?

Jesus uses those words characteristic of Johns Gospel only: ‘I am’.

I am, the name of God revealed to Moses in the bush at Mount Horeb. The writer of John’s gospel by using I am, is telling us the name and nature of God is attached to Jesus. I am the good shepherd is a statement not just about Jesus’ relationship to us his flock, it is also a statement about his relationship to God. God is the Good Shepherd.

Secondly for whom is the shepherd of Israel?

In the prophecy of Ezekiel God says that I will be the shepherd of my people. And in the Psalms, we’re already seen, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd', and 'Hear of Shepherd of Israel' – the words are about God or addressed to God. I am the Good Shepherd applied to Jesus is a vey strong saying about his relationship to God and to his flock. Jesus is identifying himself with his heavenly Father and saying it is God in his Son who goes out before us to protect us and keep us from harm. This is here in the image of the shepherd leading his sheep and being prepared to give his life for them.

In His Son Jesus, God goes before us into every aspect of what it is to be human. He goes before us into every situation. Whatever in life you have faced are facing now or will face, God in Christ has been there before you. He goes before each of us now into whatever situation we are living in and through. Loneliness, anxiety, temptation, fear, bewilderment, loss of a loved one, physical illness or weakness, fear for ourselves or our loved ones. Loss or regret all that it means to be human. God in his Son Jesus goes before us just as the shepherd went out before his sheep, leading us safely through. Proving that he is indeed with us.

We have just celebrated this Good Shepherd, laying down his life for his sheep on the cross. Jesus has gone before us, even into suffering and death. So that by his death and resurrection, in laying down his life, he might destroy death’s power over us and keep us safe. The Good shepherd leads us into eternal life.

Of course, laid upon us, is the necessity to follow him. The shepherd knows us and knows our name. Do we recognise his call to follow him day by day?

Shepherds called their sheep into and out of the fold by name and the flock recognised and followed the Shepherd’s voice. The Greek word of church quite literally means those who are called out. Ec – clesia. Those who are called, church is not a building or even a group of people who go somewhere and do something together on a Sunday or maybe once in the week we as well. Ec-clesia, the Church is a group of people who are called out to follow Jesus every day.

Jesus has called us into his flock and we are therefore are called to follow him by listening to his voice in scripture, in our prayers, in our fellowship together.  In the inner voice of conscience in the life of the world and in the words of the people of our lives. In all these ways we may hear the authentic voice of the good Shepherd.

This afternoon, we will gather for our Church, (those called out), Annual General Meeting at 4.00pm. We will look back with thankful hearts for all the Good Shepherd has led us through and look forward to some of the challenges that lie ahead in reaching out to the people of Streetly. My hope and prayer is that we will each want to grow more and more, to be God’s gathered group of people, seeking day by day seek to listen and follow Jesus as we serve Streetly community. 

Jesus the Good Shepherd calls us and leads us through whatever our lives bring our way, to the great gift of eternal life. Part of that calling is to play our part in leading others in the way that he leads us. For God has other sheep who are not yet of this fold. For them and for us Jesus the Risen Lord is The Good Shepherd.

Amen.

 

 

Charity Number: 1134127

Address: All Saints Parish Church Streetly, Foley Road East, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B74 3JL

Regular Services


Sunday
7.00am Morning Prayer 
8.00am Holy Communion
10.00am Parish Family Eucharist
6.00pm Evening Service 
 
Tuesday 10am Holy Communion
Tuesday-Saturday 8.30am Morning Prayer 
 

Special Events- Dates for your Diary

Tuesday 16th January 7.30pm- Pilgrim Course 

Wednesday 17th January 7.00pm- Seasons of Hope Bereavement course for 3 weeks

Saturday 10th February 10.30am- Coffee Concert The Blackwood Singers 


 

 

 

 




 


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