Easter 4, Year C

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Easter 7, Year C May 29, 2022 Easter 7, Year C John 17:20-26
Easter 6, Year C May 22, 2022 Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C John 14:23-29
Easter 5, Year C May 15, 2022 Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C John 13:31-35, Revelation 21:1-6, Acts 11:1-18
Easter 4, Year C May 8, 2022 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C John 10:22-30, Acts 9:36-43, Revelation 7:9-17
Easter 3, Year C May 1, 2022 The Third Sunday of Easter, Year C John 21:1-19
Easter 2, Year C April 24, 2022 Easter 2, Year C John 20:19-31
Easter Sunday, Year C April 17, 2022 Easter, Year C John 20:1-18
Good Friday, Year C April 15, 2022 Good Friday, Year C John 18:1-19:42
Palm Sunday sermon April 10, 2022 April 10, 2022 Palm Sunday Luke 22:14-23:56
Lent 5 April 3, 2022 Lent 5, Year C John 12:1-8
Lent 4, Year C March 27, 2022 Lent 4, Year C Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Lent 3 March 20, 2022 Third Sunday in Lent, 2022 Luke 13:1-9
Lent 2 March 13, 2022 Lent 2, Year C Luke 13:31-35
Ash Wednesday, Year C March 2, 2022 Ash Wednesday, Year C Genesis, chapter 4
Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C February 27, 2022 Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]


Easter 4, Year C

Sermon Date:May 8, 2022

Scripture: John 10:22-30, Acts 9:36-43, Revelation 7:9-17

Liturgy Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Three years ago, on Good Shepherd Sunday, I prepared a quiz to test your knowledge about sheep. I’m going to share this quiz with you again to see how much you remember, and then we’ll go on to the rest of the sermon in which sheep like behavior turns out to be a good thing.    

Sheep are dumb animals without a grain of sense.  (F)

Sheep can see behind themselves without turning their heads. (T, they have horizontal, slit shaped pupils)

Sheep can navigate complex mazes.  (T)

Rams attack one another and try to kill off the competition (F, Actually, rams form long term relationships with other rams, intervene for the weaker rams, and support each other in fights.)

The instinct of sheep to flock together is an indication of their lack of intelligence (F, actually, they flock together as a survival mechanism.  They know about safety in numbers).  

Sheep can experience a whole range of emotions, including boredom, despair, anger and happiness.  (T)

Sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. (T)

Sheep are so smart that they don’t need a shepherd (F)

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.” (T)

And to follow Jesus is to come to know God more perfectly and completely in this life. 

At the beginning of John’s gospel, the writer says that “no one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

In today’s gospel, when the Jewish authorities ask Jesus directly if he is the Messiah, Jesus says that he has told them, and they don’t believe.

Jesus and God do the same lifegiving work, and they are united in the work that they do in the world. 

But even though the authorities  have seen the works of Jesus, they are blind to the fact that what Jesus does points straight to God and God’s life giving love to the world. Jesus is making God known in the world in a whole new way.   But these authorities can’t hear what Jesus is telling them because they don’t belong to his sheep.  They don’t recognize his voice and so they fail to hear God’s voice.

Jesus tells his questioners, “The Father and I are one.” 

And a little further on in this chapter, he tells the authorities, standing there with stones in their hands getting ready to stone him, “If you do not believe me, believe the works I do, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” 

This Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday.  In today’s gospel, the ones who believe, unlike the authorities who are questioning Jesus, are the sheep who hear the voice of Jesus.  Jesus knows them and they follow him. 

As Psalm 95 says, “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.  O that today you would hearken to his voice.”  

For us Christians, Jesus is our good shepherd, the one we listen to and follow.   

In today’s collect, we prayed, “O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:  Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads.” 

Which brings us back to Peter, who was with Jesus by the Sea of Galilee last week, having that heart to heart talk about love and what that love means for the sheep who belong to Jesus.   At the end of the conversation, Jesus says to Peter, “Follow me.” 

So let’s see what has happened with Peter since his conversation with Jesus. 

In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Day of Pentecost has already taken place, the disciples, who have been waiting in Jerusalem, have been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and now the word about Jesus is spreading far and wide. 

Peter is following where Jesus is leading him.  Peter has left Jerusalem and is in Lydda, where he has healed Aeneas, a man who had been bedridden for eight long years. When the people who live in Lydda see the man up and about, they turn to the Lord. 

Meanwhile, over in Joppa, a disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek) has died.  Hearing that Peter is nearby, the disciples send for Peter to come to Joppa without delay. 

So Peter heads to Joppa. 

When he is taken to the room where the body of Tabitha lies, Peter listens to the voices of the friends of Dorcas, mourning over their friend.  Then he asks all of them to leave.  Having heard from the friends, Peter now wants to listen to Jesus.   

So Peter kneels down and prays. 

In that time on his knees, before he turns toward that body on the bed,  maybe Peter simply remembers that morning on the beach, the last time he had been with Jesus, when Jesus had asked Peter three times, “Peter do you love me more than these?”  And Peter’s answer had been yes, and so Jesus had said to Peter, “Take care of my sheep.”   

Now, Peter must have been on his knees listening for the beloved voice of Jesus once more, and he hears again,   “Peter, do you love me?” 

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” 

Now, as he prays, Peter becomes the channel through which the life giving power of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, flows through Peter out into Tabitha, returning her to life. 

In this miraculous moment, Peter is one with Jesus, united with Jesus in Jesus’ lifegiving, healing mission to the world.  And in this oneness with Jesus, through which new life flows into Tabitha, people see for themselves the evidence of God’s love, and many believe in the Lord.

In Bible study on Wednesday, Helmut pointed out that we suddenly seem to have so many friends who need our prayers.  Our prayer list continues to grow. 

We can pray for them the way Peter prayed that day in Joppa, by removing the other voices that nag at us even in prayer, and then be intentional about listening for the voice of Jesus, reflecting on Jesus’ love for each of us, Jesus’ love for the person for whom we’re praying, and then to open ourselves as a channel for Jesus’ healing, life giving resurrection love to flow where it will, out into the world, and into the person for whom we are praying. We are united with Jesus in Jesus’ lifegiving, healing mission to the world.   

Jesus says that he gives his sheep eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them out of his hand.  So when we pray, we really can simply listen for the voice of Jesus and reflect on his life giving love in prayer, resting in the assurance that all is well, and that all will be well, even when life is falling apart around us, and even if we are full of fear for ourselves, for those we love, or more broadly, for the state of the world itself.

After all, we are praying for what is not now, but for what will be.  We are praying in the now for the not yet of God’s reign, here and completed on this earth, when the words of Jesus have finally been realized. 

As Jesus says earlier in Chapter 10 as he is talking about being the good shepherd, “There will be one flock, one shepherd.”

That shepherd is the Lamb at the center of the throne  in the book of Revelation who guides us to the springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. 

This is the same God who in this life pursues us with goodness and mercy all the days of our lives and wants us to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, the one who wants us to have life, and to have it abundantly.