In pm's words
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May 13, 2019, 12:00 AM

the one about being known...


Sermon from May 12, 2019

Text: John 10:22-30

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, we live in a world with so many questions, don’t we? Anyone who has children or interacts with children – perhaps moms and all those who are like moms to us – who hear countless ‘simple’ questions. Mostly the constant barrage of ‘Why?’ as those children continue to learn and grow in this world.

But, we never really stop asking questions – especially not the simple ones, right? Questions like, “How do I look?” or “What should I stream tonight?” and “What did that person say?”

Though we ask really simple questions at times, we are never far removed from the deeper questions, the questions that rock us to our core, stop us in our tracks, and makes us ponder and think. Questions like, “Why am I like this? Or “Where am I going?” “Who will love me?” “What more is there?” “Why does this keep happening?”

We live in a world where those questions seem to come up quite often especially in light of the news that we see played out in front of our eyes at a seemingly increasing rate – another shooting at a high school, another verbal altercation between people who disagree.

After each of those, we ask more and more questions. Searching for answers to a life that we at times (perhaps most of the time) just don’t understand. Trying to comprehend all that is shown to each of us. We ask these questions because we are always searching for more. No matter how religious, spiritual, or none of those a person is – we are searching for meaning somewhere.

We ask those questions because we want to belong. We want to find a place to be welcomed and loved. We want to hear something, learn something, know something that brings a deeper meaning to our lives.

This morning in our text, we get to see a bit of that ‘meaning’ play out. In our gospel reading from John, we hear Jesus talking to the religious authorities. They continue to ask him those deep questions, those questions that we all ask of Jesus – if you really are the Son of God – if you are who you say you are – if we are to really believe you – then why don’t you show us?

How many have asked those questions before? I know I have. Those questions that keep you up at night, those questions that gnaw at your gut, those questions that make your mind race.

Just tell us! Give us a sign!

The religious authorities’ questions remind me of the scene from Bruce Almighty –as Bruce is having his crisis at the beginning of the film, he prays and asks (perhaps demands) that God give him a sign – and immediately he passes by numerous signs – even a utility truck literally full of different signs.

Throughout the gospels – especially in the Gospel of John – Jesus continually gives very plain signs as to who he is. Not just in the signs he performs that point to is identity and nature, but in the authority in his voice, the command of scripture, his willingness to go to the places that no one else will to show and live out God’s love for all of creation.

God has continually reached out to us through means that we don’t always understand, sometimes overlook, and even take for granted. Jesus this morning answers that question by speaking in such a way that I believe we overlook quite often – I know I did.

This day we celebrate two things, one ever year on this fourth Sunday of Easter, and one pretty special for this day. Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and today is also the baptism of Jaina Leigh Richardson.

Whenever we talk about this text, we usually – perhaps I usually – interpret this text to say, Jesus speaks, we hear him, we know his voice, so we follow. Seems logical right? That’s how things work right?

We hear a voice that we know, and then whether by relationship or comfort – we follow.

Yet, that’s not what the text says, and I think this makes it ever more important and meaningful.

Jesus says that yes – the sheep – those that belong to the flock – hear Jesus’ voice, but he knows them. And they follow him.

Jesus knows us. Jesus knows all that we are. And you know what? No one will snatch the flock out of Jesus’ hand.

You’re there. You’re safe.

Not because of what you’ve done. Not because of what you believe. Not because of who you love or what you dress like or what ‘right questions’ you ask (or don’t ask).

No one can snatch you away because Jesus. Knows. You.

That is the truth of the Good Shepherd.

We ask questions that make us anxious, scared, and fearful? Can’t snatch you away – Jesus knows you.

Ask questions out of frustration, anger, and apathy? Can’t snatch you away – Jesus knows you.

Fall back, stray away, turn away? Can’t snatch you away – Jesus knows you.

Jesus knows you. He is the good shepherd who calls to us, we hear, and he knows us, so we follow.

Some might take a little longer to follow because they are over there at the back of the field – Still, you can’t be snatched away – Jesus knows you.

This morning, we get to celebrate that knowing on a deeper level. This morning we get to participate and be witness to the baptism of Jaina Richardson. This morning, we get to remember our own baptisms.

We get to remember that we are known by God. We are known by Jesus. We are known in these waters and there is nothing that can take that away.

Jaina is indeed known by God. In these waters we remember what God already knows. That God knows us fully and completely. That God loves us through and through and there is nothing that can take that love away from us. God looks upon Jaina – God looks upon each of us – in and through these holy waters and says, “This one is mine. I know her – I know him – I know them – This is good. Always.”

But, there is something else we have to remember. Just because God knows you, just because you and I and Jaina cannot and will never be ‘snatched’ out of the hands of Jesus because we are known through these waters, it doesn’t mean that life will be easy.

It doesn’t mean that we get a smooth ride. It doesn’t mean that questions and fears and anxieties won’t crop up. It doesn’t mean that we’ll live on those ‘mountain-tops’ every day. It doesn’t.

Life still stinks sometimes. There is still hurt. There is still loss. There is still confusion. There is still sin. There isn’t much we can do to get away from that.

But, the good news is – that in spite of our questions. In spite of our acts. In spite of our ways – nothing can snatch us out of God’s hands.

Nothing can snatch us away, because Jesus already knows us.

You, and I, and Jaina, and the world are enough. You’re loved. You’re forgiven. You’re accepted. You’re washed. You’re baptized.

God already knows you. God already knows all about you. And even knowing all of that – you’re welcome to the font. You’re welcome to the table. That is God’s grace and love at work.

In her book, Searching for Sundays, Rachel Held Evans (whose life tragically ended last week as she died in the hospital from an infection at the age of 37) writes, “Grace got out of hand the moment the God of the universe hung on a Roman cross and with outstretched hands looked out upon those who had hung him there and declared, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Grace has been out of hand for more than two thousand years now. We best get used to it.

Grace is indeed out of hand. So out of hand that there is nothing that can snatch us away from the hands of God. That grace that extends from the cross, that flows through the rivers and waters of baptism, that leads us to the table, that surrounds us in our lowest moments, that lifts us up to those mountains, and that walks with us through all the days on the plain as well.

We do indeed have so many questions. But, none of those questions keeps God from loving us. Why? Because Jesus knows us already. In that knowing – that comfort and love – we follow. Amen.


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