Summary: 4th Sunday of Easter, "Series B" The shepherd invites us to live in community

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4th Sunday of Easter May 11, 2003 "Series B"

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son into our world, that we might come to know the truth and depth of your steadfast love and faithfulness. Open our hearts to the gift of your grace, which Jesus revealed in his life, teachings, and laying down his life for our redemption. And through the power of your Holy Spirit, enable us to personally experience your love for us, that we might be strengthened in faith, and empowered for witness. We ask this in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

One of the normal aspects of grief is to reminisce, to recall events of the past that have endeared us to the person whom we have lost. I’ve been doing quite a bit of this lately, as old friends and acquaintances from my past, who attended my father’s funeral, have brought back to mind so many things that I have not thought about in years.

Of course, to share these thoughts can be risky. There was a time when I shared some memories with Chal and Marc one evening after supper, and I got this, "Yeah, right. And I suppose that you walked ten miles to school each everyday, through rain and snow."

"Well," I responded, "it was only a mile. And on the way home I carried eighty papers on my paper route." Of course, they still didn’t believe me, thinking that I was just exaggerating "the good old days." But the real joy for me came when we visited my parents. The look on their faces as my Mom verified my story, was worth enduring their ridicule.

So, here goes. When I was a child, we would often spend summer evenings sitting on the front porch of my parent’s home, listening to the ball game on the radio. And when someone walked by, my Dad would say "Hi," and greet him or her by name. They would stop and chat, and then be on their way.

Now, have you ever thought about the fact that as teenagers, we don’t always compute the significance of those everyday events in our life. At least I didn’t. My cousin Dianne and I were a part of this coed "gang" that would hang out together nearly everyday. Oh, we weren’t a "gang" in the sense that that term is used today. We just enjoyed each other’s company, doing things together, and exploring the issues of life.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t occasionally cross the line of our parent’s expectations. One day we were sitting on the curb in front of one of our gang’s house, when this older man walked past, wearing gum boots and dirty looking clothes. We knew he was a little slow, but on that day we teased him.

When it was time for supper, we said our good-byes, and I walked the three and a half blocks home, only to find my father looking at me over his glasses, tapping his fingers on the table, and greeting me with the words, "I’ve been waiting for you." I knew that look, and so I responded, in defense, "I’m not late."

"That’s not the issue," he responded, and invited me to take a seat at the table, as he folded his arms, letting me know that I was in trouble. "I understand that you and your friends made fun of Mr. Morris this afternoon. Don’t you know that this man is disabled and is doing the best that he can. You have disappointed me."

Well, I again assumed that teenage defensive attitude, and you can imagine that my response was not exactly what my father wanted to hear. I said, "How did you find out about that. Did he call you?"

"No, he didn’t call me!" my father said, his voice more stern, his hands now resting on his hips. "Someone who cared about you called me. We live in a community that knows us and cares enough to keep me posted on what is going on."

Needless to say, my responses to our discussion were, from that point on, limited to "Yes Dad," or "No Dad," as I came to realize the significance of what I had done. But in addition to this, I also discovered that I was not invisible to my parents, even when I was blocks away from home. I was known, and the people who often stopped to chat with my parents while sitting on the porch, cared enough to keep an eye on me. Some things take years to compute.

But as I thought about this learning experience, I couldn’t help thinking about how things have changed since my teenage years. We’ve lived in Reynolds for sixteen years, and have come to know our immediate neighbors. But there are only a few persons that I know who live on the next block, and very few of the children. If I did notice a child exhibiting some behavior that I felt their parent might wish to address, I wouldn’t know who to call.

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