Jesus is calling. Are you listening? - September 7 — Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church (2024)

Today’s Readings: AMPsalm 41, 52; PMPsalm 44; Job 32:1-10,19-33:1,19-28;Acts 13:44-52;John 10:19-30

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

My uncle Roger was a farmer for many years. He had the life I dreamed of – living on the farm, riding horses whenever he pleased, caring for livestock. These idealized vignettes were part of how, as a child, I saw myself finding deep joy in life. The summer that New co*ke was announced and I turned nine years old, my mom’s brother Roger and his family invited me to spend a week with them in North Alabama. I rode along in the truck each morning to check on fences and cattle, move fallen limbs, and then we headed to the country store to pick up lunch: bologna and cheese sandwiches, chips, and cans of Sundrop for my cousins who were “hired help”, spraying the fields of cotton to repel bugs and kill weeds.

After tending to farm business, it was time to saddle up the horses. My uncle walked up to the metal fence and bellowed, “Come OOOONNNNN!” in a sustained tone that echoed through the valley. Again he cried, “Come on!” We waited in silence. Then, one horse emerged from the trees, head high and trotting eagerly toward us. The retired jumping horse ambled around the bend in the pasture, taking his time. The pony named Flash reluctantly followed his fellow grazers. They came when they heard the voice of my uncle, the one who fed them, tended them, and trained them. The horses came because they had a rapport with him; they knew what to expect. My uncle knew them, too. It was not a surprise the young mare was first to the gate and that the pony – who would later throw me – brought up the rear.

I am reminded of my uncle’s call to his livestock when reading this portion of John’s gospel as Jesus preached, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus was surrounded by the people of Judea, many of whom knew the stories foretelling the coming of the Messiah. People came to hear his message. Yet, some in the crowd were so disturbed by Jesus’ words that they said he was possessed by a demon or out of his mind.

What was it that had them so incensed? Earlier in John 10, Jesus alluded to other cornerstone shepherds (Moses, David, and God), and set himself among them. He said that he was the good shepherd, tending his own flock, caring for all, and going to extremes to gather those lost. He also had other sheep who would be incorporated into the one flock, under the protection of one shepherd - Jesus. He said that the hired hands were not protecting the flock, and that in the role of the good shepherd, no one could take away his life or power, as it was grounded in the love of God the Father.

Jesus stirred the wrath of his listeners because he touched on deep truths. Perhaps they realized they were like the hired hands, not protecting the flock. Perhaps they felt threatened that there were others included that were outsiders, differing from their societal norms. Perhaps they refused to see Jesus in the same league as Moses or David – much less as the Messiah. Or, hearing that they could not silence the divine message or power of Jesus, they felt afraid.

Whatever the reason people pushed back against the Good News of God’s love, healing, and faithfulness, Jesus kept calling out across the valley, summoning his flock to the stillness of the waters and to the hope of eternal life. Jesus still calls the one flock. He knows you, and you can follow his voice. Are you listening?

-- Katherine+

Questions for Reflection

How do you imagine the Good Shepherd calling your name? Of whose voice does it remind you?

When have you pushed back against heeding God calling for you? When have you followed?

Daily Challenge

Think about how you react when you resist hearing the truth. Take five minutes to journal, writing all that is in your head. Invite God to guide your exploration of resistance. Listen for the ways you can turn "no" into "yes" in your walk with God.

Jesus is calling. Are you listening? - September 7 — Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church (2024)

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