Readings for this Sunday:
Psalm 118:1, 8–9, 21–23, 26, 28, 29 (Rx 22)
1 John 3:1–2
When we hear Jesus say, “I am the Good Shepherd,” it’s tempting to wander off into bucolic bliss. If we do that, we’re missing the radical point of this I AM statement. The startling question underneath it is this: Good for whom? That is, who is Jesus being a good shepherd for? Well, of course, us, the flock of the Lord. But we are not the only ones. Jesus says there are others outside of this flock for whom he must lay down his life until there is one flock and one shepherd. This should convict us to ask: Why aren’t they part of the fold? Have we done something to prevent them from wanting to belong or even feeling welcomed? Have we been protective of our pasture, our pew, our privileges to let Jesus be good for those we might not want among us, those we think don’t deserve it? Are we hoarding Jesus’s goodness for ourselves?
Here’s the twist of this Gospel’s two-edged sword: Jesus is not the only good shepherd who must lay down his life. Two weeks from now, we will hear Jesus say that all who want to be his friends must also lay down their lives for their friends—that is, for Jesus’s ever-expanding flock. We aren’t the sheep here. We’re the shepherd.
Come and Rest
Carol Browning and Larry Harris
G-9510 · SAB, assembly, keyboard, guitar
“Be still and know that I am God. Come find refuge and retreat.”
Busy can feel like a perpetual state of being. Busy feels like validation, proof of our worth. It can seem like a welcome distraction from what worries us most. God invites us to lay down the burden of busy and simply live, for God and in God and in God’s peace. Only there can we truly rest and have our thirst be quenched. So, are we willing to accept the invitation? Are we brave enough to let go of our fears and our busy-ness and rest in the arms of the Shepherd who loves us completely?
More suggestions for the Fourth Sunday of Easter…
Faithful Shepherd Grayston Ives, text by T. B. Pollack • SATB, organ • G-8343
Holy Spirit Alleluia: Gospel Acclamation and Verses for the Easter Season Arr. Rob Glover • SATB, cantor, assembly, organ • G-8699
I Saw Water Flowing / Alleluia: Rite of Sprinkling and Gospel Acclamation for Eastertide James Biery • Unison with descant, SATB, cantor, assembly, organ • G-8469
Jesus is My Shepherd / Our God is Great Paul Hillebrand • Unison children’s choir, cantor, optional assembly, optional SATB, keyboard, guitar • 009418
My Heart I Offer to You, Lord Gerald Custer • SATB divisi, assembly, keyboard • G-7090
Tell Me More Fred Offutt • SATB, keyboard • G-7557
The Good Shepherd M. Roger Holland II • SAT, solo, assembly, keyboard, guitar • 001295
The Lord is My Shepherd William Gorton • SATB, keyboard • 008934
The Lord is My Shepherd: Psalm 23 Orin Johnson • SATB, keyboard,2 C instruments • 006331
The Stone Which the Builders Rejected Gail Gillispie • SATB • 009051
Three Epistle Motets: Let Us Love One Another / Christ Is an Offering / We Are God’s Children Paul Nicholson • SATB, reduction • G-7593
Very Bread Randolph Currie • SATB, reduction • G-8658