Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Good Shepherd

Depending on which lectionary one follows, either the Second Sunday after Easter or the Fourth Sunday of Easter focus on the theme of the Good Shepherd. Some reflections on this theme follow.

In St. John 10:11, our Lord boldly proclaims, “I am the good shepherd.”  There are two aspects of Jesus’ claim. 1) Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah-a leader like King David in many ways. 2) By calling Himself the Good Shepherd, Jesus of Nazareth is also moving His claim to another level. In John’s Gospel, “I am” sayings from Jesus are reflections of God’s name in Exodus. Furthermore, Jesus does not merely say “I’m a good shepherd.” He says, “I am the good shepherd.”

God Himself is the Good Shepherd of Israel, and this claim by Jesus is a reflection of Jesus’ unique relationship with God the Father. So Jesus is making a powerful claim. He is both the human Messiah and the divine Son of God. He is the great leader of the chosen people in both ways. 

Jesus cares for God’s flock. He nourishes their souls.  Jesus is not a hired hand who will abandon the sheep in hard times. The sheep recognize Him; they know that He is worthy of their trust. He looks after them even when it hurts Him. He lays down His life for their sakes, and Jesus Christ has the power to take up His life again for the sake of the flock. Even from heaven, He continues to watch over His human flock, intercede for them, and send His Holy Spirit to guide them.

Easter is a season that stresses our hope in Christ, and knowing that Christ is our Good Shepherd highlights such hope in a special way. All too often we are like wandering sheep, but we do have a leader that we can trust. Easter is a celebration and a proclamation of the depth of our Shepherd’s love and of His victorious power. So let us heed Him and have faith in Him. Let us be loyal and stay near our Good Shepherd. Let us accept His guidance and nourish our souls with His spiritual food and drink, with His Word and Sacraments.

Monday, April 09, 2018

First Sunday after Easter- Christ's Peace

The Gospel for Easter I in the BCP (or Easter II  B in the revised 3-year lectionary) is from John 20:19ff. Among other things, it shows the risen Lord Jesus coming to the fearful disciples. He greets them with the words, "Peace be unto you." Of course, this was a common Jewish greeting (shalom alechem). Yet, this common greeting has a special meeting in Eastertide. The risen Lord knew that His disciples had a special need for peace at that time. They were fearful of the Jewish and Roman authorities. They were also fearful and anxious about their relationships with God the Father and His Son the risen Christ. They had not been very wise, brave or faithful during Holy Week. So they needed forgiveness, reconciliation and encouragement. They needed a sense of peace with God. Christ offered them such peace, and then He repeated the words and commissioned them to share His peace with others. Sharing His peace was a special calling of the apostles as ministers of Christ's Church, but iin non-sacramental ways, it was also a calling of every disciple.

This need for Christ's peace still applies to all people for all have sinned and fallen short. Whether clergy, parishioners or un-churched, people need to realize that the risen Lord offers true and eternal peace. And whether we are clergy or laity, we are all called to share this message with others in ways appropriate for our status and abilities. May this Eastertide be a season of Christ's peace for us all!

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Easter Day 2018

St. John 20: 1-10.
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 
There is so much that can be said about the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the central event in human history. It is the foundation of all Christian theology. It is central in Christian liturgy and celebration. It is the basis of hope. It is the great example of divine love and mercy. All those things and more deserve our attention. Yet, personally, the key is the reaction of the young beloved disciple- "he saw and believed." At that point, he did not understand all the Scriptures or have a developed theology; he simply believed in the living Lord Jesus. On this day, that is where we all need to start. Jesus Christ is risen!