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The Service of the Shepherd

Once there were two gentlemen in England who owned a pasture. Most of the time they didn’t do anything with their field, so they allowed local shepherds to graze their sheep on their property. Then one day these two men, Guy and Will, decided to build an outdoor skating rink in the middle of their pasture. Shortly after they were finished, a shepherd leading his flock decided to take a shortcut across the rink. The sheep, however, were afraid of the ice and wouldn’t cross it. Desperate, the shepherd began tugging them to the other side. “Look at that,” remarked Guy to Will. “That bloke is trying to pull the wool over our ice.” Now, I promise not to pull the wool over your eyes with this sermon, but I will warn you that the sermon has something to do with shepherds and sheep. Listen for God’s word to you from Luke 15:1-7…
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and …

The Cost of Discipleship

The story is told of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the famed explorer of Antarctica, placing the following ad in the newspaper:
Men Wanted: for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.
Shackleton died in 1922, and this story began circulating in 1944, so it may be a myth. But it bears a striking resemblance in tone to Jesus’ call to discipleship in Luke 14, which is not a myth. Listen for God’s word to you from Luke 14:25-33…
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?Otherwise, when he has laid a …

What is seen?

Photo by Amanda Dalbj√∂rn on Unsplash
One day when I was young, my mother asked me a very interesting question…
If you had to lose either your sight or your hearing, and you had a choice about which to lose and which to keep, which would you choose?
As a sighted, hearing person, I cannot fully imagine what it would be like to lose either my sight or my hearing. And of course, this is something we seldom, if ever, have a choice about.
I don’t remember how I answered that question on the day my mother asked me, but I do know what my choice would be now. I would choose to give up my hearing before I would give up my vision.
Human vision is an amazing gift, as is human hearing. But in both cases, what we see and what we hear is in many ways determined by what we have in our hearts.
That is in evidence in our lectionary reading for today from Luke 14:1-14. Listen for God’s word to you…
On one occasion when Jesuswas going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they …