Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30
Today’s Reflection:
It is amazing how many times I sit through a lengthy policy meeting only to find that when I talk to colleagues about that meeting a few days later, they heard completely different things than I heard. We all enter into the meeting with our own lens and perspective – and find it validated or under fire immediately. Things have not changed from the days of Jesus and his interactions with the people: they heard what they wanted to hear. The passages today continue the themes of the past few weeks, salvation, resurrection, and God’s direction – whether it is what we want or not.

I always refer to Psalm 23 as the “funeral Psalm” because it is recited at almost every service I attend. It is used for good reason as it provides a great deal of comfort in a time of so much grief. I like to keep it handy in times of stress. At times when I am tired. For those days when I am just frustrated. I just like it.

In the John passage Jesus is confronted with a group of Jews who want a straight forward “yes” or “no” answer rather than listening to the depth of Jesus teaching: make it simple. As this was in the temple, the group was likely sent by the Pharisees in an attempt to trap Jesus into saying something they could call blasphemy. Rather than succumb to the quest for simple faith, Jesus challenged them to listen to his teachings and consider his acts. He uses the symbol of a shepherd who controls his herd in the hills and in the sty with verbal commands. He affirmed the promise of God for eternal connection.

The Revelation passage tells of the completion of the promises found in John and Psalm 23. The saints are gathered together before God. All their cares are handled by the Lord, “the Lamb at the center of the throne….” Those who recognized Jesus as the savior and called on him (washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb) whether in good times or coming through persecution are gathered around the throne in such numbers that “no one could count.” The prophecy describes the fulfillment of the statement Jesus made in John that those who God called and gave to him could not be taken away.

In Acts we see the transformed Peter – from firebrand to gentle pastor – as Jesus commanded in the passages last Sunday. Upon being called to a nearby city where one of the stalwarts of the church has passed away, he restores her to life and health. Based on evidence from the passage, she had been a powerful member of the church who had done much to care for others in the community: a Christian who lived by her beliefs. In caring for the church and being the new pastor that he became, he “shows her to be alive” which follows the language describing the resurrected Christ appearing to the disciples.

As a Christian, it is easy to follow the direction God has for me when it is something I naturally agree with, but when challenged to do something or understand God in a way with which I am not comfortable makes it much harder for me to “do” his will. The Jews in his time, the disciples, and others all experienced what they wanted to experience: some got it right and some did not. We need to get it right by opening our eyes to see and our ears to hear the will of God for our lives.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org