Two Meditations for Sunday 8th May

Readings; Revelation 7, 7-19, John 10, 22-30( and reference Psalm 23 and John 21 from last week)


Peter; Feed my sheep

He asked me if I love him. How could he ask me that? He knows I do. And I protested, three times. Of course I love him. Yet he loves me mores, so much more. Three times he asked. Three times I had denied him, failed him, not loved him enough. But there was no retribution, no punishment. Like he always did, he turned it all upside down by asking me if I loved him, letting me realise my fault, giving me the opportunity to change things.

Feed my sheep.

He so often used sheep, shepherds, perhaps because of the images in the psalms, perhaps because they were all around us. Me, why I was a fisherman (and yes, he used that imagery too), but the shepherd, the good shepherd, the perfect shepherd, that was so much part of who he was, leading us, caring for us, protecting us from harm and now, ultimately, removing the greatest threat to our lives, death itself.

But it’s not sheep, blindly following , he wants. I remember when he spoke of us being his sheep, trying to explain to the Pharisees just who he was.

He’d just healed a blind man, mixed a paste applied to his eyes and told him to wash. Unusual, not an instant healing like most. Like he was trying to say something else to the Pharisees then, when they questioned him about healing on the Sabbath. Maybe trying to encourage them to lose their blindness to who he was, to what God’s love really meant.

But, as I said, he didn’t want sheep blindly following him,

 like that paste he applied to the blind man’s eyes, his words, his actions and finally the cross and then seeing him alive again-it opened our eyes, cured our spiritual blindness, sort of gradually, not all at once.

Feed my sheep.

He’s not just our shepherd, we’re his flock. Together, we need to be together to be led by him- no point wandering off on our own, although, of course he spoke about that too. But together- he said his sheep will know his voice and follow, that’s us, those who know him, follow him, we know his voice, he knows each one of us and he’s made such promises.

And he wants me to feed his sheep.

Because I said I love him.

How can I ever live up to a trust like that, a love like that, forgiveness like that.

But he asked me. So I will.


Meditation (2)

Feed my sheep. John 21

But it’s not quite that simple is it?

The Lord’s my shepherd, he leads me to lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23

But it’s not quite that simple is it?

For the Lamb, at the centre of the throne, will be their shepherd. Revelation 7

Come on now, how are we supposed to make sense of that?

Yes, I know it’s a vision born out of living in a troubled time, a persecuted group in an occupied country. Yes, I know the Lamb had become sacrificial and somehow subverted all the evil in one fell swoop. Yes, I know that ideally the multitudes will see sense, will see the goodness and all will change and they’ll come waving palm branches in peace and never again will they hunger or thirst and the sun will not beat down on them nor any scorching heat.

But that’s not now. And no matter what the ne’re- sayers, conspiracy theorists and utra-conservative evangelical Christians say Revelation wasn’t predicting some sort of end times that we fit our present troubles into as if solving the eternal jigsaw of fate and hey-presto, here’s the brand new Kingdom.

It’s not quite that simple, is it?

We’re a church, his flock, in a complex and troubled world where the empire of the Roman world has been replaced by the empires of capitalism and greed, the empires of multinational companies and political corruption, the empires of warring Russia and God knows how many other countries vying for power and land and control and whatever else their perverted humanity thinks it can grab by force. Where the multitudes are the millions of displaced, traumatized refugees fleeing their countries and denied homes elsewhere, because they are not “us”, and indeed, half the world denies the right to exists of those who aren’t “us” whilst the other half campaigns for their inclusion in “we”.

A divided, fractured, hurting world.

Which we, the church, should know, and have been told enough times, that these, these are His sheep, His flock and the shepherd, the slain Lamb who leads the multitude into a new tomorrow says to us, his church,- “Feed my sheep”.

And the church assumes it is the flock, and it’s quite  well enough fed, thanks, fed right up.

But it’s not quite that simple is it?

It’s not possible, it’s unrealistic, people don’t listen anymore, people don’t want the church, people have other interests, people don’t need the church anymore, and anyway, we’re OK, we like what we have, what we do- if they’re not interested, why should we make the effort, if they don’t want to be fed, why waste the effort? Our flock is quite happy thanks. The others,  well it’s their choice to stay out of the pen.

But it’s not quite that simple is it?

Do you love me, Jesus asked.

Three times.

And replied;

Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep.

The slain lamb, the shepherd that leads. It’s all he asks.

If you love him.

Do you love me, Jesus asks.

Your reply just might be the revelation the world needs today.