Friday, May 9, 2014

Bishop's Note: Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

 Bishop Eric Menees

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of thy people; Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he doth lead; who, with thee and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

This Sunday is known as Good Shepherd Sunday for good reason: we are reminded that our risen Lord is indeed the "Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep." (John 10:11)

Thanks be to God that we do have a Good Shepherd, because the world has known so many bad shepherds: Shepherds who do not lead sacrificially. Shepherds who keep the sheep in the sheep pen rather than leading them out into green pastures where they may be safe and at peace to lie down..

This Sunday I will have the honor of ordaining Steve Veselsky to the transitional diaconate. At that time, I will challenge him to pattern his life after the Good Shepherd, who never thinks of himself but of his sheep; who never leads from the back but always from the front - willing to face the dangers ahead; and who always protects the sheep before himself.

The collect this week, however, is not asking that our pastors will be good shepherds, but that all of us - clergy and laymen alike - will listen to the Good Shepherd, who is the Son of God. The question for most of us is: how do we know the difference between our own voice and that of the Good Shepherd?

We know that it's the Good Shepherd's voice when we can easily see that the Word of God backs it up. We know it's our own voice when we have to rationalize that "it could be” God's desire.

We know it's the Good Shepherd's voice when he asks us to reach out beyond ourselves for the sake others. We know it's our voice when it leads to comfort and a shorter path, and we have to rationalize that God wants us to be comfortable.

We know it's the Good Shepherd's voice when he points us toward the our Heavenly Father rather than an earthly pleasure. We know it's our own voice when we tell ourselves that we deserve some earthly pleasures - rationalizing that, after all, God created everything!

This Sunday we pray that we will be granted ears to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd as well as the Grace to step out in faith to follow him - not knowing exactly where we will be going, but knowing in the depth of our being that we want to go anywhere the Good Shepherd is leading!

A blessed Good Shepherd Sunday to you all, and a blessed Mother's Day to all the moms and moms-to-be in the Diocese of San Joaquin!

Note: These articles are written by Bishop Menees for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I have posted them on Soundings with his permission for a wider audience. This is also the case for his "Why I am an Anglican" series. Dale+

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