Apologies for coming to this so late in the day - it's been one of those where the phone never stopped whenever I was home, and 2 big meetings took up most of the time between 9.00 and 5.00....But here we are at last!
The lections for this coming Sunday, Easter 4, are a kind of mixed blessing I think....because I really don't know how to choose from such riches!
I've a triple Baptism at the All Age Communion at Church in the Valley, so it will be wonderful to work with
"I know my own and my own know me" in that context...in fact I'm positively excited by it.
I'll reflect on the cross marked in oil on the candidates foreheads as the mark that proclaims they are part of the Shepherd's flock and then, rememebering that the mark will be invisible after the baptism itself, invite them to think about other ways in which their allegiance can be visible
(linking to the 1 John passage, with its emphasis on faith in action)
In another context I guess there might be some good questions around
"I have other sheep, not of this fold".
Do our congregations acknowledge that they would have been the outsiders, the other sheep, to the crowds who heard Jesus preach? We're so good at seeing ourselves as the in crowd...but we are actually the add-on extras.
How do we feel about the idea that there will be one flock and the sheep may not necessarily resemble us in every particular?
All that is asked of us is that we follow the shepherd, not make judgements about the composition of the flock - but don't we struggle with that?
Or, if we feel we've done enough about sheep in Junior Church to last a lifetime, there's the terrifying clarity of the epistle
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?
At least one of my congregations could usefully ponder that challenge for a while...though it is possible, of course, that they might choose to limit their vision of brothers and sisters to "P.L.U." (people like us...said in the most upper-class English voice you can imagine)
I think there might be an awful silence as we consider whether or not our hearts condemn us - at least, I would rather hope there might be.How do we love in truth and action? There's no question of it being an optional extra - it's the fundamental mark of our obedience to God.
Sometimes it seems to me that the readings resemble busses...For weeks you gaze hopefully at a blank screen pining for inspiration, and then one week it seems you could write any number of sermons with minimal blood, toil, sweat and tears. That's how this Sunday strikes me - I hope it's looks as promising to you.