“Reopening’s” John 10:2-5,7,9& 10
The Sanctuary Sermon for 5/17/20
The Sanctuary Sermon for 5/17/20
“Reopening’s” John 10:2-5,7,9 & 10
We begin this morning by reminding ourselves that the Lord is our shepherd and we shall not be in want. I’m sure you know how the rest of it goes – the still waters and green pastures, fearing no evil, the table in the wilderness, the overflowing cup, daily goodness and mercy, dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
Let’s look at our text found in John 10,
2 “The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.
7 I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a satisfying and abundant life.”
The passage today with its images of shepherd, gatekeeper, gate, sheep, and thieves, is exactly what we need to hear today. Jesus’ words are full of metaphors and each one has something to do with life, and life abundant. The metaphor of the gate, however, is what gets my attention today.
Jesus says that he is the gate. Gates open and close. Gates keep sheep in, and thieves out. Gates close to death and open to life. Jesus is the gate that encloses and protects what is of value. And he is the gate that opens to pastures of abundance, still waters of abundance, tables of abundance, cups of abundance. “I came,” he says, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
I’m attracted to the gate metaphor because it fits what’s happening in our country, our states, our towns, your life and mine. I’m talking about reopening.
When will we reopen? We certainly can’t live like this forever. Can we? When will our lives resume? What will happen when they do?
Questions about reopening have been on everyone’s mind at some level but more so the last week or two. Reopening is in the news every day. Our Governor DeWine began to open some businesses and restaurants with limited restraints last week, with more commerce to open this week and then at the end of the month. I can finally get a hair cut!
People, from coast to coast are protesting in favor of and against reopening, whether to mask or not, as at least here in Ohio, masks aren’t mandatory at most places. I was mask shamed at the market last week for not wearing one by a man who stood two feet away from me while preaching, apparently not concerned about social distancing. Dire warnings from Drs. Fauci, Bright and other medical “experts” are offering cautions about how reopening too soon will be disastrous. Now there’s the spoken threat of a second wave, as the beat goes on. Business owners are deciding what to do. Clergy are deciding what to do for their churches. Which by the way, don’t get me going on the Bill of Rights and the freedom to assemble. I’ll save that thought for another time. For some the answer is clear, for others it’s not. Taken all together, they don’t tell us whether the gate should be opened or closed—they tell us that the gate swings both ways.
I suspect you’ve also asked the reopening questions and you probably have some thoughts on what the answers are or should be. I sure do. People’s patience may be wearing thin and short, but there’s certainly no shortage in opinions about when, and how we should reopen.
Whose voice do you listen to and trust about reopening? I’m serious. Is it our political leaders? Medical experts? The press? Social media? Whose lead do you follow, whose voice do you listen to? With so many clamoring, who do you trust? And, where and how does the Jesus Gate fit in all of that for you?
While reopening is already happening in varying degrees, the question of reopening remains. It’s a question I’ve thought about a lot.
But I’m not talking about reopening the country, the economy, businesses, restaurants, or even The Sanctuary. I worry that if we reopen the world around us before we reopen the life within us, we’ll find ourselves more closed tomorrow, next week, and next month than we have been the last several weeks. I worry we’ll choose a fiscal life over an abundant life. And, “What will it profit us if we gain the whole world but forfeit our very life?”
So, when I speak about reopening, I’m talking about reopening as an Easter question. I’m talking about reopening our eyes, hearts, and lives. I’m talking about reopening ourselves to something new, something different, something unexpected. I’m talking about reopening to life, and life abundant, not just for ourselves but for everyone.
We get so focused on the trappings of quarantine – and how to live in the ‘new normal’ that I wonder what our spiritual lives and the abundant life will mean on the other side of this. Reopening the life within us.
What does that mean for you today? Where is your life abundant? And in what ways is it less than abundant? Keep in mind, however, that abundance is not something we get or possess. It’s a way of living and being. It’s a way of relating to others and engaging the world.
The abundant life is not about quantity, wealth, success, approval, popularity, security, or any of the other things we often think it is. How many times have you gotten what you wanted, been what others said you should be, or done what was encouraged and rewarded by society, only to discover your own emptiness and deficit? You may have had it all, but you weren’t abundant.
The abundant life is a quality of life, not a quantity of stuff. It’s about faith, hope, and love. It’s about goodness and mercy. It’s more about compounding value than it is about compounding interest.
The abundant life adds to, enriches, and enhances our lives and the lives of others. It refuses to add to the pain of the world. It is life that leads to life, a love that leads to love, joy that leads to joy, hope that leads to hope, courage that leads to courage, kindness that leads to kindness, generosity that leads to generosity, beauty that leads to beauty, forgiveness that leads to forgiveness, dignity that leads to dignity, gratitude that leads to gratitude. It is life that leads to more life.
Abundance encompasses the deep qualities and values of your life, the things that matter most and give your life meaning, purpose, and value. It’s what opens your heart to others.
Where and in what ways is the compounding of life happening for you and where is it absent? What gates do you need to reopen? And what would that take? What gates need to close or remain closed?
What if, as you and I face the question of reopening, we were to listen to and follow the Shepherd who abides within us? What would that look like and mean in your life today? What if each one of us decided to let the Shepherd’s voice guide the reopening of our self? I think it might change us, our relationships, our communities and our world.
That Shepherd, that one who leads, guides, and calls us each by name; that Shepherd who opens and closes gates – that Shepherd will not abandon, betray, or mislead us.
C’mon man! Open up. The Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not be in want.
This is the Word of the Lord for the day.