May 7, 2017 – "Holy Sheep!"

Scripture:

John 10 
 1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber;
2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them.
9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

Sermon: 

“Holy Sheep!”

  • Are we shepherds invested in the sheep, or are we just hirelings pulling a paycheck?
  • It's always amazed me when some companies and folks behind the counter lose sight of the big picture and treat the consumer or customer as the opposition.
  • I can't tell you how many folks we have in our church who have checked other places for worship where no one said hello!
  • Fact is, in membership, we're on staff, and the question our passage places on our laps is, are we on board?
  • We’re working for the real owner, and our job is not only to bring more people into god's fold.
  • There’s a protection component as well, which is why churches are called to be safe bodies of Christ and not middle school clubs & cliques.
  • Here in the US, archbishop Blair will be closing at least 70 catholic churches in Connecticut.
  • But don't worry, as Baptists, we don't have archbishops who can close churches.
  • We can do that all by ourselves – especially if we don’t care for the welfare of the flock.
  • We’re all given the responsibility to welcome new sheep and protect them from the wolves, because to Jesus, they're holy sheep.
  • The body of Christ isn't a bonsai tree.
  • If you have life, you're going to have movement and change.
  • This is why our newer faces in the fold have enabled us to continue being liturgically prophetic, not sadly predictable.
  • The word pastor is derived in English from the Latin for shepherd.
  • Now it's interesting that sheep find rest in the same spot each night, but in order to be fed and grow, the shepherd has to bring them to new ground so they can graze.
  • If they stay in the same spot, they starve.
  • Unfortunately, one of the primary tendencies of the modern American church is to treat the shepherd as a keeper of the status quo.
  • And one of the primary tendencies of shepherds in the modern American church is to seek security in the keeping of that status quo.
  • A call to pastoral ministry is profoundly different than having a job to get a paycheck.
  • The question for a prospective pastor isn't whether or not others will accept or reject their call.
  • The question is whether or not the pastor will accept or reject their call.
  • In the body of Christ, the question isn't whether or not others will hear and follow the Shepherd's voice, but whether or not we will.

Rev. Bill Keane, May 7, 2017