Summary: Sometimes we do not hear what God is saying to us unless we hear what he is not saying to us. To understand, we need now to go through some highs and some lows, especially the valley of the shadow of death to appreciate what a loving God we have. Read on.
This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 15th May 2011: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Summary: Sometimes we do not hear what God is saying to us unless we hear what he is not saying to us. To understand, we need now to go through some highs and some lows, especially the valley of the shadow of death to appreciate what a loving God we have.
Prayer: Loving God, open our hearts and our minds by the power of your Holy Spirit that we may hear with joy your message today, and live in the assurance of your love forever. We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
Our reading this morning is taken from John Gospel chapter 10, verses 1 to 10. Please be seated as I read. … “Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and 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 a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
Sometimes we do not know how blessed we are until we lose it. And sometimes we do not hear what God is saying to us unless we hear the words he is not saying to us. To understand the message of today’s readings we need to go through some highs and some lows, to appreciate what a loving God we have. In fact we will be going through a lot of highs and lows; so hold on.
To start on a high, let us consider the programs we like on the Television.
I love the documentary channels, especially the ones about engineering, but that is me. My wife likes all the ones about geology and how the earth was formed; but together we like a good murder mystery or a good comedy drama about the petty politics of our fellow human beings.
You will all have your own favourites TV programs of course, but along with the good, there is the bad.
Now I do not know about you, but I hate the biased news reporting, the twisting of the truth and the promotion of fads and trends; where people think that “if it is shown on the Tele it must be ok”.
And in this theme, I do not like the decline in our standards because of TV; especially the unnecessary use of bad language.
But worse of all, are all those TV commercials, because you have no idea the harm they are doing to you; and I have recently been informed that the length of these adverts is to increase from 10 minutes per hour to 15 minutes per hour: That is a 30% increase, which basically means that instead of hearing the GoCompare add 20 per day, we are going to hear it 30 times per day.
On the positive however we heard this morning the 23rd Psalm read, a favourite Psalm by many; but in contrast, I was referred the following parody of Psalm 23, in a homily broadcast on EWTN on March 18 2002.
To us Scots, EWTN (EWTN) by the way is the American Global Catholic Network Channel. Don’t ask!
Anyway, listen to their interpretation of the 23rd Psalm with regard to Television, and I will warn you; it is not pleasant but it kind of truthful:
The TV is my shepherd I shall not want,
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the faith,
It destroys my soul.
It leads me to the paths of sex and violence for the advertiser’s sake.
Even though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,