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25th April 2021

posted 23 Apr 2021, 02:59 by Church Office
Parish Eucharist - Fourth Sunday of Easter

It’s good shepherd Sunday. The fourth Sunday after Easter is always about sheep. Sheep and shepherds were the main Biblical metaphor for leadership and most of all the critical role of trust in a community.

When trust is eroded the people are scattered, led all over the place by a multitude of different voices. In our age of fake news, the fragmentation of sources of information and opinion, and the erosion of trust in public office, these passages might have much to tell us.

In the gospel reading, John 10:11-18, Jesus takes the role of the good shepherd because he unfailingly puts the good of the sheep first. This isn’t a bad litmus test for giving our trust. The trouble arises when the sheep seem to have opposing interests as in the letter from John, 1 John 3:16-24. This is a letter written to a bunch of believers who have fallen out. The advice in this situation is to remain in community with one another: not to divide and fragment, but to commit to the hard work of building trust, not through words but by action; action modelled on Christ, the good shepherd, who strove to expand our vision of who belongs and whose needs are to be served.

Can we model Jesus by striving to extend our understanding of others who are not like us, and commit to building a community that serves their needs as well as our own?

The Readings

1 John 3:16-24

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Gospel Reading: John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

Church Office,
23 Apr 2021, 02:59