The Scripture Readings this week are:
- From the Jewish Scriptures: Jeremiah 23:1-6
- Responsive Reading: Luke 1:68-79 (VU p. 900)
- From the Gospel: Luke 23:33-43
The hymns this week are:
- 378 Spirit of God
- MV #162 Christ Within Us Hidden (insert)
- 213 Rejoice the Lord is King
- 1 O Come, O Come Emmanuel (verses 1-7)
The Sermon title is Gathering God's Sheep
Early Thoughts: What does it mean to talk about the Reign of God? What sort of leadership model is that? WHat are the expectations of leaders?
Probably the best place to start thie week is Ralph Milton's reflections from his weekly e-mail newsletter Rumours (to subscribe send a blank e-mail here):
Jeremiah 23:1-6 - It's helpful to know that the prophet Jeremiah was writing about his own people in his own time. It's about Israel's scattered flock and the hope that they'd be all gathered together and would live in peace under another king like the great David.So here, now, in 2007, as we live in the now and the not yet of the reign of God what does this passage say to us? Where is the good news here?
It's interesting that Jeremiah accused the politicians of his day of being responsible for the mess they were in. And of course we now do the same thing.
One of the favorite little games us old fogies enjoy is called, "Ain't It Awful?" The winner of this game if never announced but it is always understood. It's the person who can attribute the most heinous action to the highest level politician. Or church leader. Or organizational leader. Whatever.
The game of "Ain't It Awful" is usually followed by a round or two of the game called, "If Only." This is when we prescribe the solutions to the world's problems - solutions that never fail because they are never tried. If only those folks in high office would ask me, I could tell them exactly how to deal with this mess.
What is never mentioned, or at least would be hotly denied, is that we get exactly the kind of leaders we deserve.
The good news is in that promise in verse 4"I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord". Jeremiah reminds the people that there will be a new king, a new shepherd for the people. This shpeherd will be a good protector, a good guide He will not lead the people astray, unlike the former shepherds (kings) of Judah.
Those of us who live in the faith of Easter see in this a reference to the coming of the Messiah. Christ, we believe, is the Good Shepherd. Christ is the branch of David who will bring safety and peace to the people of God.
THis weekend as we prepare to end one year and start a new we mark the Reign of Christ, that time which is now as we live in the light/shadow of Easter and is also yet to come as we know that we do not live in that time of peace and justice that which is promised. We also start to prepare for ADvent, for teh coming of the baby in the manger and for the coming again of God into our world and our lives. We continue to live in the hope for the Good Shpeherd who will come to guide and lead and protect. WE also live in the knowledge that we have a responsibility to be that shepherd's servants and helpers.
How does that live out? Come on Sunday and we will explore it a bit more.