Saturday, May 12, 2012

He is the Good Shepherd

You might think that I, as a pastor, would know better. I work hard and do my best. I spend an inordinate amount of time studying and praying, pastoring, and loving, in an effort to lead a congregation, Bethel, to do God’s will. You’re probably saying: I’m confused; I thought that was what you were supposed to do as the pastor and spiritual leader of the church. OK. Fair enough. And, I am busy doing what I can, leading as best I can, preaching my heart out, running a church every day of every week. Thankfully, the church has provided me with an able staff, with whom I argue and plan and with whom I share all of my life. We are all busy doing something every day to make a difference. And, we are doing what we should do. On top of this, the lay people, are also doing all that they can to make a difference in the church and in the world where they are all the time. And, we are all doing a pretty good job of it. Lay people in Bethel Church are among the best people I know. We are almost always doing something that contributes to the good of our community and world. A few weeks ago was Shepherd Sunday and the scripture was Psalm 23. You know the text. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…he makes me to lie down…restores my soul…leads me in the right paths… Psalm 23 is the most requested scripture for funerals. We almost always read it because we have perspective at funerals that we don’t have any other time much. Worshiping God, we look up to the altar and there is someone we loved in a casket, and a family is wounded and crying over their loss. And, all of us remember the achievements and the good gifts of the deceased. Most of the people that I bury are people who have enormous gifts and achievements. Now, at the end, we give thanks to God for what he made of this person, for the ways that God was living in and through this person--- and in and through us. What I forget is that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And, we are the sheep who make mistakes, and wrong decisions, and miss the mark, and love the wrong person, or don’t love the right person, or we mess things up. And, the Good Shepherd never gives up on us, just keeps on guiding, loving, taking care of us. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for us- the cross is forever our symbol of that love. I’m not saying that we ought not to work hard at this faith. I am saying that all that we do or mess up is in God’s hands. It’s not all up to us. Sometimes I wish it were. You know, you work hard and you get results. You take things into your own hands. You make it right. You save the world. You…you…you.. No, if we know anything about this in Christian faith, we know that our best efforts are likely to not be enough, and that we are dependent on God to save us and to save the world. I get frustrated ever time somebody who is a Christian say that we are going to save the world. Saving the world is not in our job description. We might work to make it better or to change some things, but Jesus Christ is the Savior. I guess the truth is that we don’t always like how he saves us. God is Christ is certainly not doing things like we’d do them. If we had the power, well… The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He knows the sheep and he still lays down his life for them. I don’t know any kind of love that is better than that. Do You? Blessings! Dave Nichols

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Welcome

Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.
Blessings!
Dave

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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