The Shepherding Way

May 12, 2019

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

4th Sunday of Easter
Psalm 23; John 10:22-30

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Shining Light on Suicide

March 26, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 4th Sunday in Lent
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41; Psalm 23

When I was growing up my twin sister and I often had slumber parties to celebrate our birthday. One of these in particular stands out in my memory – the summer we turned 13.

After playing games and eating dinner and cake, it came time for lights-out, though that never meant eyes-closed. When the room got dark, the real stuff began, you know, ghost stories, séances, and in my day, the ever popular “light as a feather, stiff as a board.” This is when the whole group gathered around one willing party-goer who laid in the center, as we called upon spirits from beyond to assist us to lift her using only two fingers.

That year, in the wee hours of the morning, amid these mystical endeavors, the phone rang. One of our friends had a premonition that it was probably bad news… not really a stretch in hindsight, but at the time we gave her full creds as the enlightened one.

Sure enough, the next morning my parents called me and my siblings into their room. Their somber expressions caused me to wonder if my Grandma Caldwell had died. She was elderly and had already had several heart attacks. So, you can imagine my surprise when they shared that our cousin Carl was the one who had died. He was in training with the Air Force. His roommate had found him, seemingly asleep on the sofa, in their base-camp apartment. Carl was one day shy of his 19th birthday, and in two weeks he was supposed to get married. Read the rest of this entry »

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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