A New Commandment

April 24, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
5th Sunday of Easter – 8:00 am service 
Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

Earlier this month, on April 4th, I was listening to NPR as I was getting ready for my day. They were talking about this day being the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each year, as part of the retelling of that story, an excerpt from his final speech, given the night before, is always included.

The year was 1968 and King was in Memphis, Tennessee speaking on behalf of the sanitation workers, among other things. In his speech he shared that the flight out of Atlanta that morning had been delayed because, knowing that King would be on-board, they had taken extra security measures to ensure the plane and its contents hadn’t been tampered with. King had also heard of threats after arriving in Memphis. Yet, in his speech on April 3rd, he ended with these familiar words:


“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”[i]

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Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
4th Sunday of Easter  
Acts 9:36-43; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30; Psalm 23

Last Sunday we heard the story of the resurrected Jesus sharing some grilled fish on the sandy shore with his disciples. The interaction with Peter provides the ultimate commissioning of what Jesus’ followers are meant to do. They are to follow Jesus’ example. He has washed their feet, he has commanded them to love others as he has loved them, and in this story he concludes by three times asking Peter “Do you love me?” After the first reply of Yes!, Jesus then says: Feed my lambs. After the second reply, Jesus says: Tend my sheep. And, just for good measure, to the third Yes, Jesus replies: Feed my sheep.

In ancient times the role of the shepherd would have been understood by the hearers. For us, not so much. The closest experience I’ve had to tending sheep happened a couple of summers ago in Iona, Scotland on our J2A Pilgrimage.

sheep combinedIt was our first full day on the small island of Iona. After lunch our group of ten headed out to explore the island, toward the beach and unkempt “golf-course”. As we walked down the rugged road that ran between pastures and homes, we noticed a family in their yard up ahead. They, along with their border collie, were trying to herd their sheep into a corral. When they saw us approaching, they noticed our interest and asked if anyone would like to help. Piper and Shelby were all in and made haste into the yard. Sam Lyles, one of the leaders, stepped through the gate with camera in hand hoping to get some good shots, but quickly learned he, too, had been commissioned to help with the sheep. There was lots of running around, back and forth, flapping arms, yelling “Hah, hah!” and trying to get the sheep to go in a common direction – and I’ve got the video to prove it! It took a few tries, but they finally got it done! Success! Read the rest of this entry »

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