Saturday, April 20, 2013

Following the Shepherd

Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; John 10:22-30

Today, the texts invite us to follow the leader. Tabitha followed Jesus so well, she was known to many in her community for her generosity. When she died her friends were so upset they sent for Peter who was in a nearby town. He prayed and brought Tabitha back to life.
Our beloved Twenty-third Psalm invites us to follow our Shepherd everywhere – by still waters, in the land of plenty, along the right pathways, through the valley of shadows and death, to the defeat of our enemies.
Jesus invites us to follow him wherever he leads us. We follow his voice and not the voice of others. When we choose to follow Jesus, he has God’s power and authority to protect us and lead us where he wants us to go.
Having laid out the basics of these three texts, I now invite you to choose to follow, or not. I’d guess all of us have played Follow the Leader, both as children, and as adults with our children. I invite anyone who wants to, to come forward and play Follow the Leader with me. … Play game

Let’s talk about what happened. Did you have fun? Why did you choose to come and play? Why did folks chose not to join the game? If it were Jesus instead of me, would you have been more inclined to play the game?

As the psalm suggests, it is sometimes easy and fun to follow Jesus; and it is sometimes a real challenge. It was easy for Tabitha to make clothing for the widows, because she was using her gifts for a ministry she loved. It was not so easy when she became ill. Her friends hoped Peter could help, I suppose, but I think mostly they wanted him to share their grief. They all followed Jesus wherever he led them.
This past week, we’ve wondered where Jesus is, and why such horrible things could happen in the US: Terrorists and bombs in Boston; an explosion in Waco; lives lost; lives saved; unimaginable, even for those of us not present in Boston and Waco.
In the midst of the chaos in both places, Jesus was there and people followed him. They followed Jesus away from the danger to a place of safety. They followed him into the danger to lend a hand to the injured. They followed him as he led them to God’s side as they died. They followed him as they huddled together in fear in Boston. They followed him as they tried to locate loved ones in Waco.
We all followed Jesus into prayer for the people who were suffering in both places. We may not want to, but we must also follow Jesus into caring for and loving the brothers in Boston who caused such terror. That does not mean the living brother does not deserve punishment. But he is still a child of God, and God grieves over each child who goes astray and chooses to not follow Jesus.
We have gathered here today because we have chosen to follow Jesus. We follow him using the gifts we have, the gifts God has given us. What gifts do you have? What ministries do you enjoy? How do you use your gifts and your ministries to follow Jesus?
Please pray with me. Jesus, you call us all to follow you, and you give us gifts to use and ministries we enjoy. Help us use our gifts and our ministries to call others to serving you as well. Amen