Thursday, April 30, 2009

Life With Shepherds and Thieves

Text: John 10:10-18... Sermon at Beresheth

Thieves do not break into your house or deceive you as an attempt to bring you life. Thieves by their nature are deceptive, intentionally conspicuous and they come to steal and deplete, never to give or refill.

Otherwise we’d call them saints or benefactors or maybe Santa clause, but as it now stands, those who take what is not theirs and lie about facts and break into our homes are called thieves, bandits or bad guys.

The only exception to this rule is Robin Hood, but he stole to give to the poor which may put him in a category all of his own.

Kind of like Jesus.

Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life.” And while saints bring food to the poor and benefactors bring money to the artists and Santa Claus brings presents to children, Jesus brings life.


The thieves will compete for you he warns, but don’t let them win. Only with me as your shepherd will life ever be satisfying, law ever bring you freedom or love ever redeem you. Those who lie to you and manipulate you and claim to know what’s best for you have intentions of stealing what they can from you and leaving you alone. But the good shepherd, the good shepherd always watches out for his sheep. He seeks out the lost and He carries the lame. And He’s got sheep all over the place… don’t think you’re the only ones, but He is the only shepherd and it’s time to enter by his gate.

It’s time to play by his rules.

And his rule is… live life abundantly.

During Lent some common themes are wilderness, confession, abandonment, etc. During Eastertide some themes might be baptism, hope and life as we’ve been studying here in Beresheth. But what does it mean to have life?

I mean, technically we’re all living. We’re breathing, blood is coursing, hearts are pumping, brains are functioning, we’re alive. But the way Jesus describes it, we may not all be living. At least not abundantly.

So what does it mean to choose life?

You heard earlier some of Frederick Buechner’s thoughts on the subject.

You’re alive if you cry and can spot beauty and can really listen to others.

But how do you get to that point? How do you get to the point of choosing life when the world offers you death on a silver platter? And I mean really, what else is lust and greed and gluttony and adultery and war and abuse and porn and drunkenness other than death? Death standing up or sitting down or maybe passed out on the floor. These are the things the liars offer us and tell us will fill us up, end the emptiness, heal the pain, ease the burden, make us rich, make us happy, make us famous, make us mad.

Make us crazy.

Because when we search and search and search and can’t find something or someone, we go crazy.

I couldn’t find my passport. I’m taking my college kids to Chile in 21 days and I couldn’t find my passport. I looked everywhere… My desk, my file cabinet, my receipts folder, last years tax file folder, this year’s tax file folder, my warranty’s and will’s briefcase, my underwear drawer, everywhere.

In the meantime I found some old love letters, $26 and a picture of my sisters from about 7 years ago but none of these things were what I was searching for, I needed my passport.

“Help!” I screamed into an empty house. Well, a house full of stuff, but not any person, not anything that could help me out of the mess I was in.

“Someone help me.”

I sat on the couch, I stood up. I got a glass of water, I grabbed a beer. I walked through all the rooms. I looked out the window. I paced, I breathed, I meditated. Where was the damn passport? And why wouldn’t anyone help me? “God, what I wouldn’t give for a boyfriend or a mom or a roommate or anyone right now.” I was going crazy.


I found my passport. It was in the bottom of my stationary drawer in the back bedroom.

Searching for life where we won’t find it will make us crazy.

And Jesus Christ came and died for all the craziness in our lives and now it’s time to walk in the newness of LIFE.

So how do we choose life?

I should have asked my therapist this week. She might have had some good advice for me. And some of us need all the advice we can get. Sometimes it’s hard hearing the shepherd’s voice, especially when everyone else is screaming so loudly at you. You’re not good enough! You’re standards are too high! You can’t do that! I want you! I need you! You’re not doing enough! Try harder! Be better! We’re doomed! It’s hopeless! You’re hopeless!

Whatever words you hear the plethora of voices shouting at you, our Shepherd’s voice is the quiet one that says, I love you. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. I am the way the truth and the life. Father forgive them. Male and female they were created in the image of God. I have come that they might live life abundantly. These are the words of the Good Shepherd, the one who whispers life into our ears, into our hearts, breathing into our very being.

I know it’s hard to choose life amidst all the death, but it’s time to do so. It’s Eastertide. And we owe it to ourselves, to our Shepherd, to choose the life given us, given for us.

We could spend weeks discussing how to hear God’s voice. We could go to spiritual retreats. Or take a whole day off and sit in silence and meditation. We could read our Bible more, go to Sunday school, attend lectures and maybe even Midweek Moorings. We could volunteer and live with the hurting children of God. We could donate money instead of indulging ourselves. We could spend ages and ages talking and discussing and trying to things, but that too might just be folly because Jesus didn’t say he came to give us stuff to DO abundantly, he came so we can live abundantly.

Live abundantly. With an attitude of gratefulness, humility an excitement that Life has come. It came in a person. Not in a theory, not in a thief, not in you or me. But you and I inherited it. And that shepherd walks behind us and beside us and before us and whispers, life… life.

Love God, Embrace Beauty and Live Life to the Fullest.


1 comment:

austinokie said...

This is a sermon of honest embrace...of authentic belief....this is not a sermon about so many other things that get in the way of good preaching sometimes....this is what the word "proclamation" really proclaimed life....and you did it very well