I go into the world this morning wondering whose voice those around me hear when I speak. When I come to the gate and call, is it the voice of a thief and a brigand? Am I really committed to the life and the health of God's people?
If I live the Christian life, I want to speak Jesus, act Jesus, live Jesus. It's the only thing that makes sense, if he is who he is to me.
I want everyone to hear a voice of love, to encounter an embrace of mercy, to feel a touch of love. The Resurrection of Christ has made this real in my life, and furthermore has made it possible for me to be a part of making it real in the lives of others.
So, it is possible for others to be healed by Christ's power through me. It is possible to encounter mercy, guidance, protection, if I accept the Spirit of the Father and of the Son in my heart.
But I know it does not always happen. I am still looking for the fleshly easy way, in spite of God's patient grace for me. I still put myself first, sometimes willfully, sometimes without even noticing it.
What will others hear from me if I'm trying to make my self more important, more in charge, more satisfied?
What will they hear from my selfish self but words of coercion, manipulation, shame? If I serve myself, how can I not live as a thief and a brigand to others?
When I do not speak mercy, when I strive to control, I only come to steal, to kill, to destroy.
This week, I want Christ to be heard in my voice. I want those around me to receive the message of the Good Shepherd, to come and go freely, to find good pasture.
When I speak words of mercy, of compassion, of healing, and when I speak from within the heart of the Good Shepherd who loves me, they will recognize his voice, even if they cannot name it.
May I only ever enter the lives of others through the gate, may all those I meet only ever be safe.
John 10:1-10 ©
‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’
Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.
So Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out
and be sure of finding pasture. The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come
so that they may have life and have it to the full.’
I've been working on my historical-critical method for the past bit now, and I've still reached the startling conclusion.
It does not make sense for the Resurrection not to have happened.
There's lots of reasons why. I'm going to stick with just the witness argument: how else can a reasonable historian explain why hundreds of backwoods peasants traveled thousands of miles to give testimony on pain of humiliating and painful death, except that they had really seen a dead body come to life in a glorified way? Even more convincing for me is that these witnesses, with no textual, physical, or authoritative evidence but their own word, managed to convince peoples throughout the Ancient Mediterranean, just by their own testimony. Before the Gospels were written, philosophers and slaves and merchants and military believed that the God of all creation - the only god, mind you - came as a human being to... What? Get nailed naked to wood as a disgusting billboard of brutal Imperial violence? What a ridiculous story! Imagine hearing it for the first time, maybe having seen crucified bodies on your way into town. What could have possibly convinced you that it were true, to such a point that you'd die rather than deny it?
I hate being the centre of attention.
Is teaching the wrong line of work for me? What I love about teaching is pointing students towards new knowledge and experience, that is, everything else but me.
Yet I stood before my students the other week, and asked them to do almost nothing else but pay attention to me talk about myself.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE PRAIRIE MESSENGER
“The birth of my child was a special moment for me,” I hushed my voice for dramatic effect on returning to my Grade 10 religious education classroom. “The midwife said, ‘Reach for your baby!’ and placed her hands over mine so that I caught my daughter safely as she entered the world.”
A silent moment followed to emphasize how important the experience was for me, the teacher.
“Can you imagine if you squeezed too hard and the baby squirted across the room?!!?”
A class clown (that is, one of many) demonstrated with large motor skills the flailing, slippery hilarity he imagined into my emotionally and spiritually charged story.
I don’t know if anyone laughed; the steam whistling from my ears drowned out other noise.
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