Summary: Part of an ongoing effort to get people involved in hands on ministry at the local level with this message focusing on elder care. (Note to Sermoncentral-This is part of the series but was a message from an out side speaker. I wanted to give you the whole
May 1, 2005
Serving Our Seniors
By Lester Gallihue
I truly appreciate the opportunity to be here. It’s really a wonderful spiritual experience and I can feel the vibes. It really helps me and I am sure it helps you. I want to read a passage which I believe showcases the whole idea of serviceability. It’s a passage about the Good Shepherd and I am reading it from John’s gospel, chapter 10, but before I read it I want to share with you an experience where you know certain passages of scripture really become graphic to you at certain points in your experience. This happened to me in Northern England, I was servicing a church up there and there were more people in the village then there were out in the country. In fact out in the country the sheep outnumbered the people by great numbers. I was from the city of Philadelphia, so I didn’t know much about sheep. But, I did know “Little Bo Peep”, that was about as far as I had gone with sheep, but I was stopped one day on the road. It was filled with sheep, just hundreds of sheep and I saw these three shepherds working the flock. In my modern mind I said, Oh! They are a team, they are working the flock as a team. But when they got the roadway empty, there were three different flocks of sheep following three different shepherds; their voices were familiar to them. I thought immediately of this passage where Jesus says I am the good shepherd, my sheep listen to my voice and they go in and out and they find good pasture.
Please listen with me now to these words from John’s gospel. Jesus said,
“I am telling you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs up in some other way is a thief and a robber. The man who goes in through the gate is a shepherd of the sheep, the gate keeper opens the gate for him, the sheep hears his voice as he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow someone else; instead they will run away from such a person because they do not know his voice.”
Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he was talking about. So Jesus said again, I am telling you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate, whoever comes in by me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal, to kill and to destroy, I have come in order that you might have life and have it in all of its fullness.
Let us pray …(prayer)
You know I have always tried to stay away from announcing myself as a republican or democrat. A lot of ministers don’t think that way, but I have always tried to stay kind of neutral in my politics. But I have to tell you I was raised by a strong democratic mother. She was a very strong disciple of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In fact I think maybe my middle name came from him. I was born the year he was first inaugurated. But one of his sayings was very real to my mom and she repeated it over and over again and you have heard it before, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” She said that on every occasion when we showed a little anxiety, so all four of us learned it very well. What I find, as I work in different nursing homes, and retirement community settings and I’ve worked in different settings. I’ve worked in a Masonic Home in Union City, Ca. with over 400 adults, average age 87, and there was a wedding every month. So don’t think that romance is over when you get past a certain age; it continues on. I worked in a Catholic retirement community in Stockton, O’Connor Woods, where there were many Protestants as well as Catholics. Now I work in Westminster Village which was started by Presbyterians and still has a strong connection with Presbyterian Homes Inc. but there are other faith groups there, so we are a very mixed company there.
But one of the things I noticed as I worked with older folks, (I am there too myself, I’m 74, my wife is a lot younger than I am). I noticed that how when you are younger you tend to be a risk taker, you tend to be really invincible, but as you get older you get more and more unsure, and fear begins to become a dominant thing in you. You begin to worry about your health; you begin to worry about social security; you begin to worry about your children and whether they will make the right decisions. On and on it goes. The litany of fear is very real for older people (and probably for younger ones nowadays too because we live in a rather dangerous culture). But, I think this good shepherd image really ministers to that problem or that challenge of fear that we face.