|Pentecost 9, year A||August 10, 2014||Proper 14, Year A||Matthew 14:22-33|
|Pentecost 8, year A||August 3, 2014||Pentecost 8, year A||Matthew 14:13-21|
|Pentecost 6, year A||July 20, 2014||Proper 11, Year A||Romans 8:12-25|
|Pentecost 7, year A||July 20, 2014||Proper 12, Year A||I Kings 3:5-12, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33|
|Pentecost 5, year A||July 13, 2014||Proper 10, Year A||Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, Psalm 65:9-14|
|Genevieve Davis’ Funeral Homily||July 13, 2014||Burial of the Dead, Rite II||Isaiah 35:1-10, I John 4:7-8,11-12, John 14:1-3|
|Pentecost 4, year A||July 6, 2014||Proper 9, Year A||Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30|
|Pentecost 3, year A||June 29, 2014||3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42|
|Pentecost 2, year A||June 22, 2014||Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year A||Psalm 69:8-20, Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39|
|Trinity Sunday, Year A||June 15, 2014||Trinity Sunday, Year A||Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20|
|Pentecost, Year A||June 8, 2014||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||Acts 2:1-21, I Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 20:1-23|
|Easter 7, Ascension Sunday, year A||June 1, 2014||Seventh Sunday of Easter||Acts 1:6-14|
|Easter 6, year A||May 25, 2014||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A 2014||Acts 17:22-31, John 14: 15-21|
|Easter 5, year A||May 18, 2014||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A||1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14|
|➤Easter 4, year A||May 11, 2014||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A||John 10:1-10, Acts 2:42-47, I Peter 2: 19-25, Psalm 23|
Easter 4, year A
Sermon Date:May 11, 2014
Scripture: John 10:1-10, Acts 2:42-47, I Peter 2: 19-25, Psalm 23
Liturgy Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A
Lying awake in the darkness in the middle of the night, my friend Brian heard a voice.
“Hello,” the voice said.
The voice was warm, somehow familiar, but Brian didn’t know whose voice it was. The voice didn’t belong to his wife or his son.
Brian wasn’t scared by this voice, but he was puzzled.
The next morning, Brian told his wife about the voice.
They were both mystified.
And then about a week later, Brian was hit by a car and killed.
And all of us remembered the warm familiar voice that had greeted Brian in the middle of the night.
And we wondered. Was this God’s own voice, preparing Brian for what was about to happen? Did Brian only imagine the voice? Was the voice something dangerous? Was it a voice of warning?
Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful and beguiling voices in the world are death dealing.
We all know in the depths of our very being the voice of the tempter who first spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden and made that forbidden piece of fruit sound so enticing that Adam and Eve ended up biting into it and in the process, set the course of human history, a history of losing our way, having to leave Paradise and wander through the wilderness, always seeking and never being quite able to return to that place of perfect peace and God’s presence that Adam and Eve first knew in the Garden.
And many of us will remember having read the Odyssey, the story of the adventurous and seemingly endless journey of Odysseus, who is trying to get back home to Ithaca after the Battle of Troy.
On this journey, he hears the song of the Sirens who live on an island that his ship must pass on his way home.
The Sirens’ song.
The Sirens have voices that no man can resist. Sailors who hear the song steer their ships toward the island and end up wrecking their ships on the rocky coast. The Sirens are surrounded by the bones of those who have died following their voices.
Odysseus wants to hear their song, but he doesn’t want to die, so he has himself tied to the mast of the ship. His crew, their ears stuffed with beeswax, keep him bound there until the voices of the Sirens fade and Odysseus can no longer hear their irresistible voices.
What about us?
How do we know which voices to listen to?
In today’s gospel, Jesus, is talking to the Pharisees, whose voices had been leading the people astray for quite some time.
“The sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
This shepherd leads us toward the abundant life that God longs to give to each and every one of us.
This abundant life is being part of a flock in which we can draw closer to God and to one another.
Abundant life is about being brought together by the Holy Spirit into a community where God is in charge and we, the sheep, are intentional about and dedicated to the study of God’s word;
a community in which we sheep feed and care for and tend one another as God tends to us;
and a community of worship and of prayer—a community in which we intentionally and regularly gather and pray for one another in our deepest and most heartfelt prayers,
a community into which God brings us, a community that has within it green pastures and still waters and the banquet table set before us,
a community constantly refreshed so that the shepherd can lead it out into the world in service.
Now we have a way to test the voices that call to us throughout our lives by asking this question.
Where is that voice calling us and what is it asking us to do?
God’s voice will be calling us into fellowship with the Holy Spirit and with one another.
This fellowship begins in our hearts as God draws us into the fellowship that the Trinity shares within itself. The very nature of God is loving community, seeking to draw all into itself and transform all of creation, time and eternity into sheer and shimmering love.
This fellowship may be found in our families, in small groups where two or three are gathered together.
I hope you find this loving fellowship when we come together as this part of Body of Christ known as St Peter’s.
And this fellowship extends out into the Holy Catholic Church—in our tradition, out through the Diocese, The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican communion.
And this fellowship extends even into heaven, because the communion of saints still shares in fellowship with us, especially as we gather around the banquet table and share God’s love as we take and bless and break and receive the bread of heaven.
This is the fellowship, with God as the shepherd, that helps us to figure out and to resist those voices that would lead us astray into a land that is waste.
This is the fellowship that will support us through the times of inevitable suffering that we will endure in this journey through life.
This is the fellowship that is not afraid to travel with one another through the valley of the shadow of death, because we know that our good shepherd is leading us.
What about that voice that Brian heard in the middle of the night?
I believe that voice was God, calling Brian toward the gate of eternal life, promising that the Good Shepherd would go ahead of him through the valley of the shadow of death and lead him to his place at the heavenly banquet already spread out for him in the midst of the communion of saints.
Who knows when you might hear a voice, a warm familiar voice in the middle of the night, a voice on a mountain, a still small voice, or a voice as loud as a trumpet call, an irresistible voice, a tempting voice.
Before you follow that voice, listen closely. Where is that voice asking you to go and calling you to do?
If it is calling you to draw closer to God and to others, if it’s the voice of the One who will lead you safely even through the wilderness and painful parts of this life with your cup running over, then you’ll know it’s God’s voice, calling you ever more fully into abundant life.