Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Readings for Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hello Everyone,

For those of us who live in Minnesota, yesterday (Monday, May 1) was certainly memorable with a wide swatch of Central Minnesota receive measurable snowfall. Fortunately, most of that snow has melted (it is in the mid-40 degrees as I write).

Two of the four readings are about Jesus as Shepherd: Psalm 23 and John 10. The reading from Acts describes the results of the Holy Spirit filling so many people on the Day of Pentecost. And the reading from 1 Peter is technically about slavery but there is a lot we can learn. Please check out my notes below from 2014. Oh, and by the way, take a try at rewriting Psalm 23 like I did below and send it to me. I love hearing from you.

Acts 2:42-47 – After Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost Day verse 2:41 says that 3,000 were added to the number of Jesus’ followers. The results of that first sermon and the addition of the new believers are reported in our passage. The followers did four things: learned from the apostles’ teachings, spent time in fellowship with the apostles (and each other?), ate together (breaking bread either means sharing meals or receiving communion), and praying together. The followers also felt the need for communal ownership of all property and distributing what was needed to those who needed it. This living in the light of Jesus produced followers who had glad and generous hearts; who praised God; and who had the goodwill of others. And each day the LORD lead many people to their fellowship. Does this sound like your church and your fellowship? Why not? What are our results from the outpouring of God’s Spirit?

Psalm 23 – God is my Shepherd. I have no needs
the Shepherd brings me to comfortable sleeping places
where the waters are calm and comforting.
My soul and spirit are made right
for the Shepherd leads me along his roads
because that’s what a good shepherd does.
Even when my days are the lowest and darkest
I fear nothing because of the Shepherd’s presence
which brings me comfort and peace.
The Shepherd is my gracious Host who prepares a place to eat
and my foes are at the table with me
the Host anoints me with fragrant oils
and keeps my wine glass fill with the finest wines.
With my Shepherd and Host,
my days are filled Good and Mercy
And the Lord invites me to live with him
all my days.

Now it is your turn. Send me your personal paraphrase of Psalm 23.

1 Peter 2:19-25 – OK, so this is really weird. The Lectionary Committee, in it’s efforts not to rile too many people, skips the reason and the subject of this passage. That reason is spelled out in verse 18, “Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.” Now read verses 19-25. The subject matter of slavery makes a world of difference to the understanding of this passage. There is still a lot for us to learn from this passage about Jesus Christ: Christ suffered, he is our example, he did not return abuse, he did not threaten, he bore our sins in/on his body on the cross, and by his wounds we have been healed. Now freed from our sins we can return to God and Jesus our Shepherd.

John 10:1-10 – What does the Good Shepherd do? I understand, from reading and not from personal experience, that Jesus draws a lot of his imagery in this passage from the actual relationship shepherds have with their sheep. Sheep know the voice of their shepherd. They scatter when other people come to them but gather to the shepherd when they hear the shepherd’s voice. Sheep cannot be herded, like cattle, but must be led by the shepherd. I have seen Basque shepherds in Idaho, on their horses, leading the sheep to the next pasture. Also, there is a good sheepdog working hard to keep the occasional straggler or wanderer with the herd. So, if Jesus is the shepherd and his followers are the sheep, what does that make me? The sheepdog. Or maybe the sheepdog are the people who are visiting and inviting those who have wandered away to come back to church. So, to mix this analogy up, sometimes we who are the sheep following Jesus should also be the sheepdogs encouraging those who have dropped out of church to reconnect. Can you be a sheepdog at least one day this week?

May the Good Shepherd Bless you this day and lead you to greener pastures tomorrow.

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary

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