Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

One Flock

April 28th:

One Flock
April 28, 2012
Call:   1 John 3: 16-17, 23
Text:   John 10: 11-18
Read:   Psalm 23 (137)

                                 One Flock

Let's take a look at ourselves.

Look to the right.      Look to the left
Look to the front       Look to the back

Look to the North and to the South
Look to the East and to the West.

Look at who is in the pews.
Look at who is in the pulpit
You can even look under the pews if you want
        Although I would be at least mildly surprised
If you found anyone hiding there.

Aren't we               a motley crew?

Not the band, of course.
And not a crew that is motley
        In the negative sense we have so often heard the term used.

For when we use it negatively, it often conveys the idea of
        The unwashed, undisciplined, and often unscrupulous dredges of humanity
                Although I am uncomfortable referring to anyone as
"dredges of humanity."

I believe that I first heard the word "motley" used to describe a band of pirates made up of scoundrels of all sorts and all backgrounds
        Probably in Peter Pan, but I am not certain.

But "motley" simply means either
        Variegated in color
Or      made up of diverse elements.

And our look around this room
        Shows us that we are a congregation made up of  diverse elements

For despite the many similarities that exist,

We have differences in education, income, and ethnic backgrounds.

We have differences in our political registrations and even within the party with which we have aligned ourselves.

Many of us have come out of various Christian denominations
Some of us have been life long Methodists
        Although those born before 1939 have seen the changes
                From Methodist Episcopal to (plain) Methodist to UM

Some of us can sing             At least one of us can't carry a tune.
Some of us like sports          Others can't fathom why.
Some of us are even (and this is painful and embarrassing to admit)             Yankee fans.

And yet we are together.

We are together because we are followers of Jesus Christ.
We are his sheep.       He is our shepherd.

We are not a group that just happens to enjoy each other's company
        Although hopefully we do enjoy each other.

We are not a group that just happens to share interests or concerns.
        Although we do share many interests and together address many concerns.

We are not the Kiwanis, Lions, or Rotary
        nor any other civic or charitable organization
although some of us also serve through such organizations
        and even those who don't,       hold them in high regard.

We are a community brought together by
        The life, the death, the resurrection, and the love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the good shepherd
We are his flock

Jesus talks about this in our text this morning [John 10: 11-18]

He tells us that he is the good shepherd
        Not just some guy hired to watch over us.

The difference is that
the "Good Shepherd" loves and cares for the sheep so much
        that to protect them and save them
                he will lay down his life for them
unlike a hired hand who will sacrifice the sheep
        to save himself by running away
        instead of taking the risks involved in protecting them.

For years, the image of the good shepherd has comforted us.

We have seen dozens of pictures of Christ
        Holding a lamb, while leading the flock.

I not only have the reassuring pleasure of now having my office
        In a room dominated by a marvelous stained glass window
                Depicting that calming scene, that comforting image
But every time I am in the fellowship hall
        I can look up and through the open door to that office
                see that window
                With the sun, at different times of the day
Bathing that image with different tones and hues

And the best known and most comforting of the psalms - the 23rd
        Reminds us of that image as well

Reading it, we begin    "The Lord               is my shepherd"

And then as we continue
We celebrate    that because he is, we have all we need
And are confident that we shall not want

And     we declare that
even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death
we are so confident in his protection
        that there is no evil that we fear.             [pause]

But we do have something to fear.

To paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt:
        "With Christ as our shepherd
        All we have to fear     Is fear of ourselves."

For the danger in the image of Christ as the good shepherd
        Is that you and I will see only
 that Christ    is our shepherd
        and will allow ourselves to ignore the rest of the image
                that we                 are Christ's flock

And if that happens,    you and I will start to think and act as if
        We own Christ and He works for us
When    what we need to think   and how we need to act    is as if
        Christ owns us and we work for Him
For, (paraphrasing some else)   "That's the way it is   April 29, 2012
                                        And for the 2000 years immediately past"

As parts of Christ's flock we are indebted to him

Indebted to him
For the remarkable love and protection he has provided us
and     For the continuing love and protection we are confident he will provide us.

Remember, this shepherd was not only willing
        But actually did                lay down his life for us.

And that act of love and caring merits much more of a response than
        A tepid "That was nice of him."
Or      A casual        "He is a good shepherd."

Our response has to be
one of deep gratitude
one of enthusiastic and heartfelt praise
one of determined and willing obedience

In short,
        We have to place him above all else in our lives
And     stop coming up with excuses not to.

and we - motley bunch that we are - have to respond
not only as individual sheep
        but as a community
as parts of             the one flock    for which he calls in the scripture.

We must worship as a community  - and do so regularly
        For if we don't,
we slide into the pattern of giving other things priority
        Using Him       rather than acknowledging His right to use us
We must serve willingly         because we are serving Him
        Not trying to impress others

We must do all that we can to make irrelevant and out of date the question raised in the passage that called us to worship this morning:
        "How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?"

and we must reach out and tell and show His story to those other sheep who do not yet belong to the flock
        and not just with those who seem identical to us

For this flock is inclusive - not exclusive.

This flock is open to anyone who is
prepared to recognize, accept, and acknowledge
                That He is our shepherd
                That we are dependent on Him and responsible to Him
                That He owns us - not the reverse.

This flock,  his flock
        can respond even better to the shepherd's love and sacrifice
        Because of the variety of gifts and experiences
                That result from the fact that the flock is motley

Wow!    We are his motley crew.

What a wonderful thing to be!