Sermon by Deacon Cindy Kamp
The King James Version of the 23rd Psalm is a passage most Christians know and most can possibly even recite. It begins with “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” and goes on to tell the reader that God is with them in their journey, through the good and the bad, and that in the end we will live with God forever. It is a scripture verse that brings comfort to many, especially in difficult times. And it is common, especially in difficult times, to ask the question, “where is God in all of this?”. As it says in this Psalm, He is with us. He gives us the strength to carry us through. We cannot expect God to step in prevent bad things from happening because as Molly Malivuk explained one time during a study, God put the world in motion and he doesn’t stop it. He doesn’t stop the laws of gravity and he doesn’t spin the world backwards so we can have a re-do. We are not God’s puppets. He gave us free-will.
Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. Thus the Psalm referenced above and our reading from the 10th chapter of John, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me”. All these references to the shepherd and sheep made perfect sense to those in Biblical times. The hearer knew that a shepherd would lay his life down for his sheep, that he would carry those who couldn’t keep up and that the sheep knew the voice of their shepherd and would not follow the wrong one. All this is important to know when we look at Jesus as being the Good Shepherd. The one who laid down his life for us. The one that helps carry us through when we cannot do it on our own. The one true voice that we strive to hear and follow. God’s voice.
One of the places we can hear God’ voice in worship. In listening to His voice through the scripture readings, through forgiveness and absolution or in the body and blood of communion. We should come to church expecting to have an encounter with God. In last week’s lesson we heard Jesus command Peter to feed my sheep. A lot of times this is interpreted to take care of those who don’t have enough food in order to live, but it also means to “feed” them with the Good News of Christ Jesus. To be the voice of God for them. We can also hear God’s voice through those we know. The ones that lift us up so we can see God working in the world. Not everyone hears God the same way. God comes to each of us in a way we can understand. One way is not better than another.
Another way that we can hear God’s voice is through prayer. Not just the “I need” prayers or the “thanks for everything” prayers. These are the types of prayers where we spend some time talking and some time listening, seeking out that relationship with God. We also hear God’s voice through scripture. Often times it will come in the reading of our own private devotions at home, but other times it comes to us when we are in a group discussing scripture. Such as in Sunday school or in a small group setting. Reading and studying scripture in a group allows us differing views on how others hear God’s voice that may be different from the way we hear it.
One of the ELCA’s taglines is “God’s Work. Our Hands”. Each of us has spiritual gifts given to us at baptism to build up the body of Christ to fulfill God’s mission in the world, but we must use those gifts listening carefully for the voice of God. When we do something it should always be to the glory of God. Thus the saying on our sign, There is a God…you’re not Him. He is always the Shepherd and we should never lose sight of the fact that we are His sheep.