4 Easter Year C
May 12, 2019
Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30
We are well into the Easter Season now. Today…is the 4th Sunday of Easter. We’ve been singing and proclaiming our Alleluia’s…We’ve been singing our hymns that proclaim that Jesus is alive! And today, on this 4th Sunday of Easter we celebrate Jesus, as the Good Shepherd.
Our worship services the past few months…I would even venture to say going all the way back to All Saints Sunday, the Advent season, the Christmas season, the season of Epiphany, the season of Lent, Holy Week, and now Easter… have highlighted so many different ways of worshiping together….so many different ways of listening and learning together…so many different glimpses into the life and death and resurrection of Jesus…
Every season of the church year, has its own gifts to give us…
If someone were to ask me what my favorite season of the church year is…or what my favorite church service was…it would be hard for me to answer…because they all have something to teach us…they all have a story to tell….and if we allow ourselves to be fully present as we worship together, listening to scriptures, singing together, praying together, breaking bread together….we may come to see that these stories, are a part of our shared stories too…
And the more we come to understand, that we are all connected and part of a bigger story, of God’s love for all his people and all of creation…the greater the opportunity for us to hear God’s voice more clearly…when the Shepherd calls our name, when Jesus calls our name…and invites us to come closer, to get to know him more deeply, and to trust enough to follow where he leads us…
Our psalm for today…Psalm 23….The Lord is my Shepherd….is a well-known and favorite psalm for many people…
It’s a psalm that is often read at funeral services and memorial services…as well as our reading from Revelation today…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….
If there is any one shared story, that reminds us how intimately we are all connected, it is at the worship service when we gather together to say good-bye to our loved ones whose mortal life has ended, and commend them to God’s keeping, and comfort those who mourn with our care, our compassion and our love; with the hope that abides in each one of us.
Through our belief in Jesus’ resurrection, we do indeed have hope in life eternal. We do indeed believe that death does not need to have the final say, as we recall and proclaim the mystery of our faith every week in our Eucharist service: Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.
We long to see signs of his resurrection and we often do, in the lives of people all around us, in those people who nourish us and love us and encourage us. And surely, in this season of Spring, there is abundant new growth, in the greens and in the flowers, that are bursting forth with signs of new hope and resurrection life.
We are witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection story….here and now…and throughout all the seasons of our lives… Because He lives…this story lives in us, too.
Each one of us. Every day. Every Season.
So, for today…if you were to ask me what my favorite church service is…I would answer that today is my favorite day….Because I love that we can be so closely joined together in the shared reading of Psalm 23.
I love that this psalm has the power to bring comfort and strength to so many people. I love that this psalm gives hope to so many people, when they don’t even know how much they need it.
I love that this psalm can lead us to the place where we can once again, be still, and hear the voice of the shepherd who wants to hold us close in the palm of his hand, not allowing anyone or anything to separate us from the love of God.
I love that this psalm has the power to remind us, all…that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the Good Shepherd…we’ve been told plainly…we’ve seen it in the many stories of his life and teachings that are shared in the scriptures…
I love that this psalm offers a powerful vision for us to abide in…we have these beautiful scriptures to hold fast to…with hope…and assurance…
And finally…I love that all of us have gathered here this morning to worship together…knowing that we all come to the table from a different place in our lives today…
Some may be feeling joyful today for their mom or another person who has nurtured and encouraged them throughout their life….some may be remembering a beloved woman in their life, who has joined the long line of saints that have gone on before us… some may be struggling today…while others are celebrating…so many different lives and so many different stories to share today…yet…still we gather here together….as one Body…united by the Love of God, revealed to us, in the Risen Christ…
No matter where we find ourselves in the bigger story today, the story of God’s love for his people and all of creation…The words of psalm 23…whatever translation or paraphrase or hymn verse that we love…are meant to fall upon our hearts and ears today…reminding us that we have a shepherd who calls us by name…and assures us that God is always with us, in all the seasons of our lives… Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #104 The Lord Is My Shepherd
1 The Lord is my Shepherd, no want shall I know;
I feed in green pastures, safe-folded I rest;
He leadeth my soul where the still waters flow,
Restores me when wand'ring, redeems when oppressed.
2 Through the valley and shadow my death though I stray,
Since thou art my guardian, no evil I fear;
Thy rod shall defend me, thy staff be my stay;
No harm can befall, with my comforter near.
3 In the midst of affliction my table is spread;
With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o'er;
With perfume and oil thou anointest my head;
O what shall I ask of thy providence more?
4 Let goodness and mercy, my bountiful God,
Still follow my steps till I meet Thee above;
I seek by the path which my ancestors trod,
Through the land of their sojourn, thy kingdom of love.
Rev Julie Platson
St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church