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Sunday 20th August 2017 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity followed by Cool Drinks & Refreshments
Celebrant: Rev'd Nathanial
Preacher: Jack Noonan

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Sung Eucharist for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity followed by Cool Drinks & Refreshments
Celebrant and Preacher: Rev'd Nathanial

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26th April 2015 – Fourth Sunday of Easter – Jack Noonan

Sermon (Click Link to Listen)

Bible Readings: Acts 4. 5-12; Psalm 23 ; John 10. 11-18

Sermon 26.04.2015

Of the three Scripture readings, this morning, my focus is on just two. The two chosen are linked by a very ancient, vibrant and divinely inspired metaphor from our Judaeo –Christian faith.

The word in the readings that attracted my attention began to make its appearance in Scripture some 4200 years ago… With the passage of time this word has lent itself to being used as a metaphor.

A metaphor is… where a reality… an idea… is infused and enriched with added dimensions, and qualities taken from another domain. (example)

An good metaphor injects imaginative life into the issue being considered.

The Scriptures are highly enriched by great examples of life -filled metaphors… especially in the Book of Psalm, Song of Songs and the Book of Revelation.

The inspired metaphor energising two of this morning’s readings is the humble ‘shepherd’.

I am the Good Shepherd’ declaration of Christ in the gospel, and the ‘Lord is my Shepherd’, from the psalm.

 

Shepherding …tending… caring…feeding …managing sheep is a frequently recurring theme in Scripture…. either as an actual occupation and/or an ancient, and enduring metaphor, for the caring nature of our heavenly Father.

In the history of God’s people, much of life, centred around pastoral concerns; tending the sheep, searching and foraging for pasture and water, and being constantly on the lookout for predatory animals and marauding humans .

 

Significant individuals and leaders, of God’s covenanted people, were shepherds: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah, Moses, the daughters of Jethro, the prophet Amos and of course David.

Good shepherding demanded experience, commitment, intelligence, and courage.

David, in the book of Samuel, gives us an dramatic account of what courage was needed.

The young David in trying to convince King Saul that he had the courage and ability to kill Goliath relates; when I “… was tending (my) father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him…’’

 

Considering the importance of sheep herding to the Hebrew nomadic economy and culture, it is not surprising that words relating to sheep, shepherds and shepherding occur so frequently throughout the two testaments…

In fact the word ‘shepherd’ and related words occur almost 300 times across 31 books of the 66 books of the Bible.

So, when Jesus, in John 10, declares ‘I am the good shepherd’ it would have had rich resonances with those listening to Him.

Triggering off, in their minds, multi-facetted cultural and religious associations.

Echoes from the prophesies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Zechariah written over 500 years earlier.

Through each of these prophets, the Holy Spirit, wielded the imagery of shepherding, so to inform, reform, and encourage God’s people( both then and now) in the paths of righteousness.

1. Jeremiah spoke prophetically of God gathering in the nation of Israel as a flock of sheep that has been scattered. (Jer 23:1-3)

2. Ezekiel, prophesied that God: “As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them… I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down…I will rescue my flock and they will no longer be a prey” (Eze 34:12, 15,22).

3. And thirdly the prophetic visions of Zechariah, from 2500 yrs ago speaks of the worthless shepherd having no pity on his sheep and trading them for 30 pieces of silver…the lordly price at which I was priced by them’ ( Zech. 11 ff)

 

The listeners to Christ, that day in Jerusalem were familiar with both the actual and symbolic meaning attached to the the concept of shepherd and shepherding .

Peter understood Jesus perfectly well when the Lord told him to feed His lambs and feed His sheep

The listeners were familiar with the code that corrupt shepherds could be equated with corrupt authorities, who had no genuine concern regarding the wellbeing of the flocks/people other than to minimise effort/and maximise profits.

They knew of shepherds/rulers who when flocks/or godly ways were attacked by man or beast, simply compromised or ran away. When the going got tough, they got going.

So, our three prophets dramatically set the conceptual backdrop for the Christ’s declaration, that day in Jerusalem, when He boldly declared and repeated;

11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,

Nowhere else in the 66 books of our Bible, but only here in chapter 10 of John, in these 2 verses, does the Holy Spirit for the first time ever… link the word ‘good’/kalos with the word ‘shepherd’…. creating an all embracing dynamic and timeless metaphor which intuitively and effortlessly describes the nature, the depth, and the richness that has its fullness in Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God.

 

But the full meaning of the Greek word ‘kalos’ is not fully encompassed by the English word ‘good’. The word ‘kalos’ also refers, in this context, to that which is not just ‘good’, but also beautiful, noble, honourable, and praiseworthy. There are also shades of admirable, heroic and attractivness.

 

We learn that our good shepherd and God are one. For in Jesus we have the Father. And in the Father is Jesus.

If we want to know what our God and Father is like…look to Jesus. For in Him is the fullness of the Godhead made manifest.

If we want to know the depth of God’s love for each and every one of us gathered here as a church…..look again to Jesus.

If we want to know what we look like to the Father… return again and look to Jesus; ‘because as He is ,even so are we, in this world.’

Jesus, our Good Shepherd forever stands in stark contrast with all that is false and hypocritical in each and every one of us….and in love, He freely opens a permanent way of escape to us.

There is real and tangible comfort for us in today readings. We learn a lot about the Lord. We must do Jesus the honour of taking Him at His word.

Closely re read Chapter 10 of today’s gospel along with the psalm. It is important for us to nourish out spirit with His Word.

Today’s readings are rich. I found the beauty of the words and images and what they say about Jesus captivating. As I became more and more familiar with the passages I found that they blended/melted into each other. So as a conclusion I’ll share what emerged.

 

 

  1. I the Lord Jesus am your good shepherd;

therefore nothing need be missing, wanting or lacking in you. In faith, you are complete in Me.

 

  1. I am the trustworthy Shepherd.

I will take very good care of you, willingly meeting all your physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual emptiness’. For those who come to me I do not throw out.

  1. I am the faithful Shepherd.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. I go before you on the way…safely leading along the right path for you.

 

  1. I am the honourable and reliable Shepherd.

I will never leave you or forsake you even as you journey through the valleys of the shadows of defeat, depression, dis.ease and death. I know my own and my own know me. You will know my voice.

  1. I am the praiseworthy Shepherd. No good thing will I withhold from you who daily die to self in following me. My rod and staff will support, strengthen, and defend you. When you are weak then will I show you how to be strong in My might. Call on Me.
  2. I am the Anointed Shepherd. I refresh you, I restore you with the anointing of fragrant oils equipping you to rest, stand, and wait for Me…for I am able… to save you to the uttermost.
  3. I am the crucified, the resurrected, the ascended and the glorified Shepherd.

I make intercession on intercession on your behalf so that goodness and mercy follows you.

For God exalted Me with his right hand [to be] a Prince and a Saviour.

Therefore, be assured. You are invited to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and to live in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

God is not angry with us. Jesus is the proof of that and He is not a liar. He gave His life for this to be true.

We do not have to jump through hoops and perform well in order to be acceptable in His sight or the Father’s.

Jesus, our good Shepherd took care of all of our past present and impending fines and prosecutions.

Grace is a person….the person is Christ. What grace demands, grace supplies.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive all that we are, as living sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. Amen and amen ; )