Sermons

"The Second Half of the Question": Sermon for Easter 4, Year B

"The Second Half of the Question": Sermon for Easter 4, Year B

Apr 26, 2015

Passage:John 10:11-18

Preacher: The Rev. Jo Roberts Craig

Series: Easter

Category: Discipleship, Post-Resurrection

Keywords: grace, mercy, sheep, unity

Summary:

In this time of noise, it is very difficult to separate out God's voice from all the other voices. Perhaps it is time in this post resurrection period to begin to train our eyes and our ears to see and hear God's voice and God's handiwork.

Detail:

It is fascinating to me to be preaching on this particular pericope… Indeed, we hear it in the Lectionary cycle every three year, and every three years, it falls to me (by chance) to preach on this Sunday.

This was the pericope that was given to me my senior year in seminary…the tradition at that time was for each senior to be responsible for a week of chapel…

We met with our team, assignments were made, and the senior student preached at the noonday Holy Eucharist on Wednesday…

This was my text…and has been every three years since…I could spend time wondering if it meant that I just didn’t get it and I was going to preach it until I did…

 But instead, it brings up such delicious memories; I shall be content to try once more…Here goes:

 I think it very important in looking at this reading and in working with it that we make note from the beginning that this is from John’s Gospel. 

And because of that it is necessary that we consider John’s Christology…

 From the very beginning of the prologue of John to the end of the Gospel, the writer is making it clear that Jesus is the Christ and that He and the Father are one.

 And in this reading, John makes it clear that those who hear the voice of the shepherd are related in mutual recognition and in mutual belonging one to another.

There is in Christ’s voice a resonating in the ears of those who hear a oneness …a unity of heart, mind, and ministry.

 There is also in the voice and in the word the knowledge that God chooses for God’s people to live and to be a part of the love of God…both receiving the love and sharing it.

 The flock that is implied in this reading is a flock that belongs to God and therefore is one of great diversity.

 One that encompasses all who gather at God’s table…all that chose to participate in the loving mercy and saving grace of God.

 There will be black sheep, spotted lambs, crippled ewes, rams with broken horns, majestic beasts, pure white lambs… God’s redemptive work in the calling of God’s flock does not distinguish between the rich or poor; the broken or the healed…

 One flock; one God and Father of all…

 What keeps coming to me as I read and listen to this Gospel is the need to honestly ask ourselves what resonates in our being as we listen to the all the competing voices of this world?

 We are a people of noise…some of us have the gift to filter, but others of us hear every word…Life can become a cacophony of sounds and words and music…

 So even when we hear the voice of God or see God’s handiwork, we do not separate them from the chaos.

 I believe with all my heart that we have to train our hearts and minds to filter…to see and hear the word of God.

To allow ourselves to deny the chaos and to seek the order…to ask God for the gift of discernment and to make note when something or someone or some vision resonates with who and what we know God to be…

 This passage always reminds me of an experience that I had with my Daddy…

 For those of you who do not know, my Daddy was a rancher and a large animal veterinarian…

 He always bristled when folks said that cows were dumb…I know it can certainly seem that way when you are trying to get one in the squeeze shoot…

 I also know that as the cow backs up out of the loading shoot…causing all sorts of havoc, it is natural to shout that the beast is dumb…that may be the nicest thing one can say.

 But Daddy said no…they are certainly smart enough to be who they were created to be. For him…a cow was smart enough to be a cow and to do the things that cows do.

 That was really brought home one time when Daddy asked me to feed his cows…It was obvious that they knew how to listen for the voice of the one who loves them.

 As Daddy got older…in his early 80’s … he just kept a few cows and a bull.

 Usually about 13 or 14… depending on the number of calves…

 He fed them everyday…not that they needed it…they were grazing in traps where the grass came up to their bellies.

 But he loved them and they loved him…It would make a great YouTube film to show him in the middle of the small herd with this Beefmaster bull nuzzling him…

 One day when I was visiting, he called from the clinic to say that he was up to his elbows in surgery and could not feed his cows…

 Would I please go do that for him? Of course…I had gone with him a hundred times to feed…

 So I loaded his car with the treats, the dog in the middle on the console, and the goat in the other front seat…the goat would only ride in the front seat.

 And off we went…As I approached the pasture where the cows were, they looked up and started toward me…slowly…after all they are seriously fat.

 I made the mistake of stopping and stepping out of the car and calling to them as Daddy did…every time.

 Now my call was a perfect match for his… I had heard it all my life…But obviously it wasn’t.

 It did not resonate with these creatures…Well, I tried again and the bull took a few steps toward me and then he and the girls turned their backs and walked away…

 I called again and they did not even give me the pleasure of turning their heads…I was not Dr. Roberts and that was the voice they knew and loved.

 Perhaps Daddy was correct…they are not dumb…they have developed an ability that seems to escape humans…they know how to listen for the one who loves them.

 How do we see God in the world? How do we hear God’s voice?

 In this post resurrection time, it is a great question and a great time to begin to shut out the chaos.

 With the gift of the resurrection, it is time to watch…to listen…to embrace…to give and to receive the grace and mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Amen

 References: Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary The Gospel of Mark,

The New International Commentary on the New Testament, William Lane