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The Lord Is Our Shepherd

April 12, 2008
By The Rev. Fred Bird, Serving Episcopal Congregations in Elkins And Grafton
Throughout the Easter season, there is one theme that rings loud and clear. That theme is the message of hope! Hope springs eternal throughout the ages because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you have been reading the recent articles by members of the Randolph County Ministerial Association in The Inter-Mountain, you cannot help but notice the theme of hope. The Rev. Kent Price wrote an article on the specific power of Christian hope. Pastor Ted Bessey, in another article, reminded us that the Easter season continues with the powerful blessing of hope.

We live in a world that often appears to be without hope, love or faith. The message of the Easter season shouts to the heavens of life that is more abundant and life that is eternal. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people can be optimistic, idealistic and hopeful. Yes, there is hope for the future in Jesus Christ. There is also optimism now because of what he has done for us. On a practical note, I for one, would much prefer to associate with idealists and optimists, as opposed to cynics and pessimists. Remember, Jesus often said that blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen. Blessed people are the ones who are hopeful, even with the suffering and pains of life.

On this Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of the Easter season, many Christian churches around the world will be studying Psalms 23 and John 10. Those two passages speak soundly of the love of God and the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. In Psalm 23, the writer speaks of the Lord as shepherd. What a comforting and reassuring image, even in the shadow of death.

In the 10th chapter of the gospel of John, Jesus speaks of the good shepherd who knows his flock and his flock knows him. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, and his heart goes out to all the sheep. Jesus also says that he is the “gate” that leads into safety and security. The “gate” also leads out to green pastures and abundant living. Sometimes, Jesus told us, green pastures might be hard to find, the road might be long and hard, and forces would be present that attempt to divide the flock.

Jesus continues to call to his flock. He calls us to follow him. He calls to us out of love and compassion. He calls to us with hope. We are called to listen for his voice. We are called to unity and community. We are called to love, just as he loves us. In Jesus there is one shepherd and one flock.

How sad that so often the flock of Jesus is torn apart by disagreement and controversy. Throughout the centuries the church has been torn apart with issues of power, control and politics. Unfortunately, we have not always been listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd. In this Easter season, let us pray that we will hear the calling of Jesus, heed his call, and live our lives with the hope that only Jesus can give.

A Prayer For the Unity of the Church

O God, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only savior, the prince of peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one body and one spirit, one hope of our calling, one lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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