Acts 2:14, 36-41, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:20-25, John 10:1-10
In our liturgical celebration this is Good Shepherd Sunday, recognizing Jesus as our Good Shepherd. The texts for this day focus on shepherd’s or the result of being under the influence of the Good Shepherd. Of course, the Psalm is the 23rd, which is only to be read aloud in the King James Version (made the mistake of reading it at a funeral in something other than KJV, near disaster). I can’t even tell you how long ago I memorized this Psalm, I simply think I have known it forever. But these are not words simply to comfort us, but words that remind us we are under the care and protection of the Shepherd. And while under that care, we are to care, to shepherd others. Whether that is to bring them in to a more full and complete relationship with God through Christ Jesus, or to provide them with shepherding care by feeding, clothing or housing them.
The text from 1 Peter reminds us that Jesus suffered for us, and we may have to suffer as well. That needs to be borne in the manner that Jesus set. Chances are for most Christians in industrialized, first world countries that suffering may look very different from that experienced by Christians in India or Cambodia. But in the midst of whatever form suffering may appear, we are not released from our obligation to extend to others the same love and care extended to us.
But by far, those following the Good Shepherd become bold. Not a recklessness of silly leaping in where angels fear to tread, but a solid, confident boldness that Peter expresses in the second chapter of Acts. He is preaching so eloquently, so clearly, that we may forget that a few weeks previous he was denying this Jesus. Peter has become bold, and others respond to that love and boldness.
The tag line on my email message is Proceed and be bold. All to often people mistake that for brashness or bravado. Not so. Boldness is a confidence in the face of the unknown. Boldness says this is what must be done and I will take this stand and see that it happens.
Thin places lie just beyond boldness. Proceed.