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inside the Anglican Parish of the Otways church...
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Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
TODAY we reflect on Jesus the Good shepherd. In John 10:1-10 Jesus tries to describe the connection between himself and his followers, but he uses images that don't touch our hearts and minds as richly as they would have touched his original hearers.
I am the good Shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
There is genuine consternation among the people around Jesus. Who is he? How can we trust him? Is he really from God or simply some new charlatan in town? Jesus answers these questions both pragmatically and poetically.
After Jesus identifies himself as the true shepherd, Jesus offers another way to understand his relationship to the people: I am the gate for the sheep. Neither of these images is wholly convincing to everyone, thus bearing out the truth of what Jesus says, that his own sheep hear his voice. Others presumably do not.
There are a couple of interesting things about the shepherd with whom Jesus identifies himself. First, this shepherd has the well-being of the sheep at heart, rather than his own well-being. This shepherd is not a thief who would steal sheep, an act in which the sheep would come to no good end.
The shepherd enters rightly, properly, and openly into the sheepfold. All is open and above board, a cooperative effort with an obliging doorkeeper and sheep who respond to the sound of their name. There is a relationship of trust between the shepherd and his sheep. Their shepherd leads them out and then goes before them, in front of them, to lead. The sheep are not abandoned.
Secondly, Jesus turns to a clear statement of identity. I am the door. I am the proper way, the right way, the only way into the sheep fold. Pasture, that is, life, is through me, the door. Those who enter are being saved, that is, being brought into pasture and life rather than being snatched up for their destruction.
Hearing Jesus' voice does not always happen easily even for those who are closest to him. So how can we hear our shepherds voice?
Let me suggest 4 keys to hearing God’s voice.
1. Set apart a quiet place where you can still your thoughts and emotions and simply listen .Psalm 46:10 encourages us to be still, let go, cease striving, and know that He is God. In Psalm 37:7 we are called to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” There is a deep inner knowing in our spirits that each of us can experience when we quiet our flesh and our minds.
2. As you pray, fix the eyes of your heart upon Jesus, knowing the Lord is always with you. King David wrote “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) Because David knew that the Lord was always with him, he determined in his spirit to see that truth with the eyes of his heart as he went through life, knowing that this would keep his faith strong.
3. Recognizing that God's voice in your heart often sounds like a flow of spontaneous thoughts. When I want to hear from God, first I call out to God and then I tune to chance-encounters or spontaneous thoughts. (Jeremiah 33:3)
4. Finally, write out your prayers and God’s answers, (Ps 119:15) The Scriptures record many examples of individual’s prayers and God’s replies, such as the Psalms, many of the prophets, and Revelation. I have found that obeying this principle amplifies my confidence in my ability to hear God’s voice and follow His leading.
In a world where even computers generate letters and phone calls in which we are addressed by name, always seeking to gain something from us, it is important we nurture our ability to hear Jesus voice in the business of our lives. There is a promise in today’s reading that when God calls to us through Jesus, we can trust that we will be fed, nurtured and protected,along with all God's people.
The Lord be with you.
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.