Visit our new site at

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~Sheep, shepherds, and the Lamb edition

Holy Shepherd,
you know your sheep by name
and lead us to safety through the valleys of death.
Guide us by your voice,
that we may walk in certainty and security
to the joyous feast prepared in your house,
were we celebrate with you forever. Amen.

It's the fourth Sunday of Easter, and that brings us Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Or wait, Jesus is the Lamb. Confused anyone?

This year's Good Shepherd Sunday gospel finds Jesus in the temple precincts where he is asked point blank, "Are you the Messiah?" His answer was no doubt unsatisfactory to that particular audience and is still enigmatic in some ways; nonetheless it has provided solace for countless Christians over the centuries, and the image of Jesus as the shepherd is one that is familiar to all. Are you hearing the shepherd's voice as you prepare to preach?

We continue on our Eastertide trek through Revelation as well where we find Jesus the Lamb enthroned

 and surrounded by angels and throngs of the faithful robed in white who have "come through their ordeal" and been washed in the blood of the lamb. It's not your traditional pastoral scene, but the promise of the Lamb who will be the shepherd is reassuring none the less:

"They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

 The reading from Acts provides an alternative to sheep and shepherd imagery as we find Peter in Joppa where he raises the faithful Tabitha from the dead, demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit invested in Jesus' disciples. What does this story promise us today, in a culture perhaps more skeptical of such things?

Many of us struggle with the familiarity of the Good Shepherd. Are you finding fresh inspiration? Are you off lectionary? Share your questions, frustrations and inspirations with us. Sometimes it takes a village to write a sermon, so to speak!

Readings may be found here or here


  1. Early on Monday I was thinking that I am bored with preaching on the Good Shepherd, and I still am. But my oh my do I have a longing for that day when every tear has been wiped away and God's peaceable reign is restored. I think I know what I will be preaching about this Sunday, because don't we all share that pain?

  2. Our worship service will begin Sunday morning with the unison reading of the 23rd Psalm. I'm not sure where I'll go from there.

  3. Earth Day worship this SUnday. And I need a Children's Time idea. I had a story I was going to use but it is too long for our group (so I will include it in the sermon instead). Was going to re-do the seed planting I did last year and may still do that. But what else have folks done?

  4. I prewrote this well before the Boston bombing; I know that event will shape the direction some will choose to take. I'm not preaching because I will be traveling after my mother's funeral on Friday, and I'm not sure where I would go if I were preaching. I too long for the day when every tear is wiped away. And I think the Good Shepherd weeps with us.

    1. Prayers for you as you celebrate your mother's life and commend her to God's keeping.

      I totally agree that God is crying with us...

  5. We are moving through the Acts passages and exploring how God breaks barriers and invites followers to practice resurrection. We have talked about how God moves through barriers of fear (the disciples hid behind locked doors) and certainty (Paul and Ananias). This week we are addressing the barrier of complacency. The story of how the disciples respond to Tabitha's death paints a beautiful picture of how we can be moved to respond to the death and despair all around us. This was the plan, and sadly it will be timely.

  6. I'm not back in a preaching schedule yet, but I did address the lectionary here, in case it should be helpful to anyone: Things We Cannot Unsee.

  7. A friend who is a shepherd told me that sheep, unlike most animals, won't adopt an orphan lamb. So a ewe whose lamb has died will suffer with too much milk even if there is a lamb whose mother died who needs it. the only solution is to literally wash the orphaned lamb in the blood of the dead lamb. Then the baby smells right, and the mom can't tell the difference. We are washed in the blood of the lamb--now we look (and smell, I guess) like Jesus.

    I'm not sure how I'll tie this in with wanting every tear wiped away. some of our folks were running Monday, others in the crowd cheering. Since the blood of others is pretty close to us, maybe this isn't the year to tell the story above, but it may be helpful to some of you.

  8. Basing the adult sermon out of the children's sermon, we'll talk about robing, washed in the waters of baptism, and for adults, the blood of Christ. (see "" for the series on the code language of Revelations)

    Sometimes, we are called to be the sheep in community, other times, we're called to be more shepherding. Jesus was human and God, the Lamb and the Shepherd. Peter will still be the fulcrum...did he send others away in order to not fail in front of people? Was he skeptical that he would be able to call Tabitha back? He's done one other miracle at this point...a healing of a lame man...this is definitely a deeper healing, I'd think. He is the disciple who actually questions, fails, is promised the building of the kingdom ("You are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my kingdom" Matt 16:18), so to be called to restore life? Shepherd or Sheep in this instance? perhaps we are called to be both as well, the saint and the sinner, faithful while wrestling with and resting in God's grace.

    How this connects to Boston, I don't seems to me that the runners had a goal and they were deterred, many of them; faithful to their running, they were put off the path and ran to help...I noticed in the pictures that many folks ran into the smoke, to help, to assist, to shepherd? Sheep who were there for a different action were called to re-focus, re-robe and end the day with an entirely different focus than that with which they began.

    The horror is evident. I guess for me, finding the gracious, the community, the unity is where preaching can benefit. There are no answers to horror, only grace and the blood of Christ...which leads us to being robed and cleansed despite that which falls and fails around us...

  9. Revelations again for me. Had an exciting first week on it last week - there was a lot of buzzy, buzz, buzz afterward which is always gratifying. However, THIS week may be another story altogether. Nothing written or even imagined yet. And having one of those days when Nothing Is Going As Planned (filling out my first ever workers comp form for another employee, if that gives you any idea...).

  10. I have an added problem or challenge in preaching this lesson and Sunday in that my resignation will be announced. I do I preach about leaving, boston marathon and tragedy and loss and Jesus the good shepherd?

    1. Maybe something about change and expectations and openness to new things happening, whether they arise from a plan or they are thrust upon us out of necessity. That is just what comes to mind for me as a possible common thread...

  11. Riffing on a picture that was floating around FB earlier this week: a guy holding a sign saying "the beginning is near." Revelation and Acts for me - talking about the comfort offered in the passage from Rev is for those who have completed their journey - who were washed in the blood of the lamb - rather than those who mourn, who still have more work to do. Easter is a reminder that while one thing has ended, something new and even greater is beginning, and we don't get rest until we do it. And Peter raising Dorcas? One of the first acts of ministry in the nascent church. We are in a period of discernment as a parish about what kind of church we want to be, or are called to be, and the idea of beginnings - even uncomfortable and scary ones - is central to what I am preaching on these weeks. Yes, I know it sounds sort of disjointed, but I think/hope/pray it will come together.

    Not addressing Boston directly, although I may drop something in about how any time any thing massively awful occurs, people think it's a "sign" that the things mentioned in Revelation are happening. Then again, I may not. Too much going on in the draft of the sermon already!


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.