Monday, May 5, 2014

Be a Shepherd of God's Flock

Every Monday morning the diocesan staff starts the week of with Morning Prayer. Two people are assigned to read the lessons, one old testament and one new testament, and share on them. It works out to everybody sharing once a quarter. Somehow every time I was scheduled to share, something came up and it got cancelled.

This Monday, Cinco de Mayo, I (finally) got my chance to deliver a sharing on 1 Peter 5:1-14.

1 Peter 5:1-14:

"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's suffereings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - no because you must, but because you are willing to and wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

Young men, in the same way be submissive in those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. 

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. 

Peace to all of you who are in Christ."

Here's what I reflected:

Jesus was the ultimate shepherd. He was a good shepherd to the Lord. In John 10:14 he says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

And so he did.

Jesus laid down his life for his sheep, for us, for his followers. He laid down his life as a shepherd so he could take it up again.

We all know the story – we just celebrated it a few weeks ago during Easter. The resurrection which showed there is always light and righteousness with Jesus.

Now in today’s new testament reading, Peter tells us, “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers.”

Jesus knew his fate. Before he died, he made disciples and what did he tell those disciples? “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

Make disciples of all nations. Create followers throughout the world. Become shepherds of God’s sheep. As we await his coming and glory we must be God’s shepherds of God’s flock as we make disciples.

Sheep need shepherds for guidance, protection, and guarding. Without a shepherd, sheep are defenseless creatures who can destroy themselves or be destroyed with equal ease. Sheep need to be led away from the cliff by their shepherd. They need to pulled out when they get their horns stuck in the fence by their shepherd.

And as Peter writes, “and God of all grace, who called you to his eternal Glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself to restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”

Just like the sheep, we need God to pull us out of our own suffering away from the cliff and out of the fence. Everyone needs a shepherd to guide, protect, and guard them. A good shepherd, a good leader, will have those who are behind him, follow him.

That’s all God is asking – for us to lead in the spirit of him once he himself has made us strong, firm, and steadfast. He is asking us to be disciples so we can make disciples of every one.

Discipleship is really about what we do with our feet. It’s about getting and walking and following Christ. Follow Jesus with your feet because he is the way, the truth, and the light.

As Harold says from The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, “If I just keep putting one food in front of the other, it stands to reason that I am going to get there. I’ve begun to think we sit for more than we are supposed why else would we have feet?”

Why else would God have given us feet if we were not supposed to follow?

Why else would God have given us feet if we were not supposed to lead through his example?


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