The video version of this meditation can be found here.
In John 10 Jesus identifies himself with God. In verse 30 he says, “I and my Father are one.” Twice Jesus identifies himself as “The Shepherd,” or as “The Good Shepherd.” Fourteen times he calls his people “sheep.” He says, “My sheep hear my voice, I call them by name, and they follow me.”
I think it is safe to assume that Jesus wants to lead us to green pastures by still waters. He will lead us in good times, and in bad. When we are in the valley of the shadow, he is there, encouraging and leading us.
There are five senses: seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, feeling. In John 10 only “hearing” is mentioned. If we want to receive maximum benefit from the Good Shepherd, we must learn to listen to his voice.
How do we do that? I would suggest three ways: (Please jump to page 2 below).
Don’t forget to join us for Zoom Worship at 5:00 p.m. Follow this link. After the Zoom Meeting I will post my video Meditation with a text. Have a wonderful Sabbath!
Read John 10:1-30 here. The assigned lesson is John 10:1-10, but to me it makes no sense to break-up this passage. It coheres too closely. Here is an outline and summary:
I. In John 10 Jesus has one name for his people. Fourteen times he calls his people “sheep.”
His sheep have a highly developed sense of hearing. They must, for it is the only one of the five senses mentioned in the passage.
Sheep hear the voice of the shepherd. The shepherd calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. The shepherd knows the name of the sheep!
When the shepherd has brought out all his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him and know his voice. No doubt, like the Shepherd of Psalm 23, He leads them to green pastures and still waters.
The sheep of Jesus will not follow a stranger, they flee strangers, because they do not know the voice of strangers. (Click on page 2 below to continue).
Michael Westmoreland and our choir have worked hard to prepare a special worship service via Zoom meeting for 5:00 p.m. today. If you want to attend, contact our host Margaret Couch via email (our members should have her address) and she will send you the link. If you are not a member and have my email, contact me and I will send the link to you after I receive it from Margaret.
As a part of the meeting, I am doing a presentation of my thoughts on our gospel lesson, Luke 24:13-35 which tells us about two disciples Celopas and an unnamed companion who meet Jesus on the Road that runs seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
Following the meeting, I will be publishing a short video that includes my thoughts on the texts, but lacks the music, and the fellowship of the Zoom meeting. The video will be shorter than the last, under 500 words. The very late Bishop Herbert Spaugh told me before his death in 1978 that in preparing his newspaper column he always put all he wanted to say in the first sentence, and then hit it with 475 words thereafter. I am trying to learn that.
I hope to see you at 5:00 p.m. I hope and pray that this will be a real Sabbath for you, not enforced, but enjoyed.
“O, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is you name in all the earth. Your glory above the heavens is chanted in the mouth of babes and infants.”
And (Mary)gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Pandemic is experienced in a variety of ways. It brings joy, risk, and sorrow, but not in equal measure to all.
Believe it or not, the pandemic does bring some joys. I have heard celebrities like Arod and JLO opine that they are grateful they have more time with their children than ever before. They are representative of a pretty large group. My son who has been working at home with his children for over a month told me the same thing. Contrast that with families with two or three or four or more small children, cooped up in a small space. There are moments of joy for them, too, but some parents, or so I hear, are struggling to keep things creative, or sane. Imagine what it has been like in Spain where children have been kept indoors for six weeks. Then there is the problem of childcare. A single parent has an essential job and needs the money, so they have to go to work. Or a couple, have essential jobs, and children who need them, and no access to child care. How are they coping? Then there is the risk factor. People like me are at higher risk because of our age and pre-existing conditions; but some of us can stay home, in relative safety, others can’t. (Please go to page 2 below.)
For as long as I can remember, on the first Sunday of the year, I have drawn a text for the New Year. When I was too young to do it myself, or when I was away at school, or in service, my mother would draw it for me. At Fries we keep a basket of texts left over from New Year’s sitting in the small vestibule that is between the hall on the main floor and the sanctuary. One Sunday when I was emotionally taxed, I did not wait for a new year. I drew an extra text. I read it, took comfort from it, and tucked it away in my billfold. Eventually, it was taken out of my billfold and stuffed in a desk drawer. Just this week, when I was again emotionally taxed, I rediscovered it. I know it is for me. Perhaps it is for you, too. In Isaiah 43:16 we read:
The Lord makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters.
It is a reference to God’s deliverance of Israel at the Yom Suph (Reed Sea/Red Sea) during the nation’s exodus from Egypt. The people were trapped between the water and the armies of Pharaoh, and God made a way for them in the midst of the sea. The text refers to that event, but it is in the present tense. Even now, when we need it, “the Lord makes a way.” Will we let him? Often it requires our cooperation. A wise man once said, “Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not.”
Prayer: O, Lord, in these difficult times, make a way for us, as individuals, as a church, as a nation, as the people of your pasture. We belong to you. Our lives are hid with Christ in you. Nevertheless, you call upon us to live in this world. May each of us do that not to the best of our abilities, but to the best of your abilities. Help us O Lord, and help us to receive the help. Amen.
Out of an abundance of caution, Fries Memorial has decided to suspend worship services and other large gatherings until further notice. The PEC has strongly encouraged this decision with the health and well-being of our members and the wider community in mind.
We all continue to watch and to pray for those around the world who are being impacted by the spread of COVID-19. We pray for those infected, the families of those who have lost their lives, those providing care and relief, and those making important decisions
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