St Andrew Lutheran Church
420 Center Point Rd NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
(319) 393-4021
 www.standrewlutheran.org
PENTECOST VIII
July 19, 2015
 
"The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want"
 
   The worship theme for this week includes references to an occupation and a way of life about which most of us know virtually nothing.  It's sometimes referred to as "Good Shepherd Sunday," as the lessons and music refer to the people of God as sheep and God (and later, Jesus) as their shepherd. 

   Our first lesson is from Jeremiah, and God sternly rebukes the shepherds who attack, destroy and scatter the sheep of his pasture.  In ancient texts, kings often called themselves shepherds, as those who led and protected their flocks of people.  God's care and protection for his flock is stated clearly and without qualification.

   Psalm 23 is filled with the imagery of God's never-ending love and the joy of being in his presence.  The psalmist expresses gratitude to God on a very personal, individual level, using beautiful descriptions of the peace God's love and care bring to him.

   The Gospel of Mark introduces the story of the feeding of the five thousand with another picture.  A great crowd had gathered, wishing to hear Jesus speak, and Mark tells us that he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

   Writers and speakers who are trying to communicate with their audiences are usually most effective when they use expressions and descriptions with which people are familiar.  Of course, that means the speakers need to be comfortable with their terminology as well.

   References to sheep and shepherds throughout both the Old and New Testaments are perfectly understandable to the people of the era and the region.  We urban, 21st century, North Americans need to stretch our imaginations a little, taking a trip back in time a couple of thousand years. 

   Shepherding was hard, dirty, lonely work, and keeping track of a flock over a large area of grazing land was certainly a challenge.  The responsibility for a flock was significant, and the shepherds worked all day, every day.  And yet the shepherds were devoted to these often irritating, frustrating animals, who don't seem to learn not to wander off, not to slip down an embankment, and not to panic and scatter when they feel threatened.

   The more we consider these descriptions and expressions, the more obvious it becomes for us as individuals and as groups  today.  We so desperately need a shepherd to watch over our flock, to rescue us from our own dumb mistakes, and to bring us back to safety.  Jesus assures us that we are always cared for, every single one of us, and however lost and confused and turned around we are, our shepherd will not give up, and will keep searching until we are found.
 

Your friend in Christ,
Mary Rogers

 

   All are welcome to our Summer Sunday Fellowship Hour at 10:45 a.m. 
   Join us for refreshments and fellowship in the library

 
Worship Times
Holy Communion
  Saturday 5:30 pm
  Sunday 9:30 am
 


 
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