The Loving Shepherd

Sermon April 22

The Loving Shepherd

Today’s readings are all about love. The disciples offered healing in Jesus’ name because of love. Jesus loved us so much that he laid down his life for us. Jesus is a Good Shepherd who loves us like a shepherd loves his flock. But hang on, you may ask. The reading talks about hired hands who run away when danger approaches, because they don’t love the sheep. In New Zealand our way of looking after sheep is very different from that of first century Palestine. Instead of 20 or so sheep that we know from birth, and tend to personally, sheep are farmed in huge stations, spread on top of high mountains and vast paddocks, and only see people a few times a year when they need to be dealt with. We certainly wouldn’t expect a hired worker to abandon their job because danger is near. Continue reading

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Church is like family

An important theme in the Wellington Diocese at the moment is that we are family. I was thinking about this when my children were being particularly ghastly – it’s not necessarily a positive image, but it is a realistic one. Families squabble and put each other down, tease and annoy, but when it comes to the crunch they pull together and present a united face.

Someone leaked the name of the new Dean of our Cathedral. That’s just the sort of thing an aggrieved sibling would do in a family – telling secrets that they weren’t meant to tell, so they could gain some sort of advantage for themselves. Knowing other people’s secrets  when you are a kid is a great source of power!

But in God’s family we are all like kids really. We want to play together and have our own way, to keep our own toys, not to share. We don’t want to clean up after ourselves, but would rather blame someone else for making the mess.

If the church is claiming to be like family, perhaps we have to find the positive aspects. How about wider family gatherings, where tensions emerge as the day wears on? The arguments that break out at Chrisimas after too may beers or sherries? In our wider family we have  learnt that there are some areas that you just skirt around delicately – my step-daughetr and her husband have been avowed atheists, but with two  ordained minsters in the family there is a bit of tension there! Funnily, it’s as we do discuss the difficult areas that we can really model respect for each other.

The church is soon to be dicussing Same-sex relationships as they affect the church, both in leadership roles and in the blessing of same-sex relationships. We have been asked to be respectful of each others’ views. Just like in a  natural family, when you know that there are some topics best handled dlicately, so too with this one. We must give it our best consideration – coming to the table fresh and open to each other.

One of my kids was mugged a couple of weeks ago. (He’s fine by the way). When his sister heard about it, she burst into tears, and said, I know I always say I hate him, but Ilove him really. It would be awful if something happened to him.

Now that the crisis is past she’s back to swearing at him, and him at her( whose idea was it to have two kids going through puberty at the same time?)

But she knew that when the crisis attacked her family, that the love was there. Will the love be there in our church as we discuss these issues?

I hope so.