Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Good Shepherd: Source Of Strength

John's Gospel sets before us the great "I am" sayings which convey the message that Jesus is one with God.  In John 10 Jesus says: twiceI am the gate for the sheep....  And you, says the Good Shepherd, can be part of the “sheep-herd”,  the flock, the community of koinonia, of fellowship, only through “entering”, through becoming one with the One who is both the gate and the Shepherd. Who wouldn’t wish to be part of Jesus’ fellowship!? For He promises to each one who enters: salvation; open access to God, 24/7; nourishment beyond measure; and life, eternal life: and all of this abundantly”.
We probably wouldn’t have chosen sheep as the image for Jesus’ followers, possibly because you and I realize that we have more in common with sheep than we want to admit! Yet Jesus refers to Himself in terms very familiar to his hearers: "I am the good, the noble, Shepherd." Each time we gather in community around the Lord's Table we come ready to share the Lord’s abundance in our fellowship of hearing the Apostles’ teaching, of bread-breaking, and of prayer.  Our hearts listen for, often straining to hear, the voice of the Good Shepherd who patiently draws us to peace and reconciliation: to the koinonia, the fellowship of the Communion of Saints. Though the places in which we live and work will still require us to struggle with fear, anger, and violence, here, in Communion, we encounter the Risen Lord. Here you and I are abundantly fed for the journey ahead. And as we're fed, we’re invited to now be willing to go forth and feed others in the name of the Good Shepherd.

Day Seven: Changed by the Good Shepherd
Feed my sheep (John 21:19)

On this day the Bible texts show us the Lord strengthening His flock. Following the Good Shepherd, we are called to strengthen each other in the Lord, and to support and fortify the weak and the lost. There is one Shepherd, and we are his people.

How does the Good Shepherd inspire us to comfort, revive, and restore the confidence of those who are lost?

In what ways can Christians of various traditions strengthen each other in confessing and bearing witness to Jesus Christ?

For us today, what can be the meaning of St Paul's exhortation: "Be strong in the Lord.... put on the whole armour of God"?

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