Reflection from John on this morning’s sermon
One of the verses he emphasised stood out for me too when Duncan was reading this morning’s passage:
When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
It is a fitting description of life just now, when there are so many words, so much compassion on the one hand and such readiness to judge on the other. As a society it seems there is no shepherd to turn to, for we have lost sight as 21st-century people of of the great story which has shaped our history for the last two millennia.
And that is our message as Christians: there is a shepherd, who has compassion upon us, and comes down to us in our need, and gives us the small voice of discernment and leadership which does not render us infantile, but somehow grows us to become the people we were made to be.
On our own, we would fail, for we lack, most of us,both the courage and determination, and the resolve not to lose sight of the Shepherd. But as Duncan said, God has drawn us together into communities of faith and our role is to encourage and bless one another.
‘Freely you have received, freely give.’ A challenge to us to make a list in our minds of the things we have received from God, and cultivate openness not to to hold them to our chests like misers with gold coins, but to freely give, and laugh in joy with those whose lives are thereby graced by God.
Shepherded by Jesus, we are called, all of us, to be shepherds, not just to the Church, but to the whole world sharing the love and wisdom of Christ to people who are are confused and at their wit’s end.
But perhaps some of us are really struggling just now. Is it true? Does God exist? Is Jesus the Shepherd? When we struggle, Jesus has compassion on us, Jesus comes down to rescue us, Jesus travels with us through the darkness until the moment when our eyes are once more opened to the grace which sustains us, and our hearts are awakened again to the reality of the God-blessed environment, the kingdom of heaven, of which we are already part.
‘Hang on in there!’ Jesus says. ‘Do not give up! I am with you!’