3rd May 2020
Rev David Osborn speaks on this fourth Sunday of Easter, 3rd May 2020.
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Sometimes we may have to guess whether to take things literally;
On other occasions we probably have more insight:
A local tourist attraction, anxious to prevent parents from losing their children put up this sign over the last Summer Bank Holiday weekend (remember those?):
‘Any unattended children will be given a shot of espresso and promised a puppy’
Apparently there were no lost children over the entire 3 day break
Although I can’t believe the notice was taken literally.........
Then again, perhaps it was; who can tell?
Well, in that same vein, what do we make of today’s reading?
Literal or not? Taken seriously or not?
I am the vine; I am the gate; a couple of difficult sayings by our Lord
Why difficult? Well, let Martin Luther speak on the matter
As you all know in his youth and early ministry
He tries to take the whole bible literally; until he realises that it’s impossible
Jesus talks figuratively; I am the vine, the door, the gate
And for Martin Luther this becomes a true revelation
Here begins Luther’s search for the truth
Here begins the Reformation of the church
Here begins the modern Christian world as the map of Christian Europe changes for ever
Funny thing is, and this is really ironic, on this occasion, Jesus could well have been talking
factually: sheep pens in Palestine used to be three sided
Built of stone walls up on the hillsides; but a gap was always left, for the sheep to go in and out
And the shepherd slept across the breach; (remember the Christmas story?) literally becoming
the gate through which everything has to pass
A barrier; keeping the rustlers out and the sheep safe inside
A challenging thought to us all; for if Christ must be taken at his word then
Some things inevitably follow:
We become important features of the kingdom of God:
We have to encourage and support others in their quest for safety
We must walk alongside those who have problems ready to offer our help when they need it
We have to guard others from some of the dangers of this world
We know that as parents, guardians, teachers, flight commanders, managers... we exist to
mitigate risk, provide timely guidance and advice
And rather like the poem called ‘Footprints’; we are to act as the carrier of the victim and oppressed......
Again, flashbacks to the road to Emmaus from the Easter story
For our Lord is with us, alongside us, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear
We have taken on a task and we have been given support to carry it out
This is what faith means when it operates in action; rather than in piety
We live in our world today; not Luther’s world; not Cranmer’s world; not Queen Victoria’s world
Our faith gives us strength to live in our world as it is; and to do our best to make it a bit better
Not many of us have the call to sainthood; not many live the life of monastic devotion
But all of us hear the call to work in our own ways to improve the lot of our fellow human beings
And that, is literally true...........
St John’s Gospel Chapter 10 verses 1 to 10
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
Prayer for today
Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep
Teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command that all
Your people may be gathered into one flock to the glory of God the Father.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour Christ has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the
kingdom, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.