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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Easter 4, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
April 25, 2021


John 10:11-18


‘Threefold amen’


On reflection, there are three things we can say about today’s gospel, and in relation to the image of the sheepfold. God be with you …

First, that believers from the Gentile world (most of us here) can think of themselves as sought out, gathered, and brought into the life-giving fold of Israel by the Shepherd who enacts the divine outreach of love to the world (John 3:16). This first affirmation might even be understood in response to a fundamental question: What is Christianity? Christianity is Judaism for Gentiles (if that’s not too crude a definition).

Second, and perhaps in response to the question, What is Christian faith?, we can say that to be a member of a Christian flock is to know oneself included among those for whom the Shepherd is willing to die. Faith is to know oneself included, counted, cherished, nourished in the name and power of grace, courage, passion – and if we’re careful with the word – self-sacrifice.

How we express this faith in speech and song, policy and process, how we keep faith with all that is gracious, encouraging and generous, is crucial.

A third affirmation is needed, however, lest we reduce the gospel to something dualistic or passive. It’s not simply the case that we are sought out, gathered, included and nourished. It’s not simply the case that we are the sheep of a shepherd, however good and noble. In fact, the meaning of the sheepfold image folds back, unfolds over time. In the final chapter of John, the risen Christ says to a penitent and ardent Simon Peter: “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep … Feed my sheep.”

Ultimately, we are called to imitate the nobility and goodness of a shepherd who truly cares.

In response to the fundamental question, What is the Church?, we point to a community in which members participate in nobility and goodness. The Church is a community in which participants imitate the generous and loving ministry of Jesus. As a community of Christ-imitators, we nurture and celebrate free and faithful leadership, free and faithful service, free and faithful care, free and faithful witness.

Likened to sheep, we are called to be good shepherds. Not surprisingly, in one and the same gospel, Jesus the Good Shepherd is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

What is Christianity? Christianity is Judaism for Gentiles. Amen.

What is Christian faith? Christian faith is to know oneself included, counted, cherished, nourished in the Spirit of grace, courage, passion and self-sacrifice. Amen.

What is the Church? The Church is a creative community (a community of co-creators) in which all members participate in nobility and goodness. Amen.

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