The Good Shepherd

Weekly Sermon Review from Kelley Dial for August 18th

More often than not the lectionary provides us with readings that warm our hearts with talk of love and word portraits of Jesus as a kind and calm presence. They describe the Jesus we see in the Good Shepherd window in this place we hold so dear. On August 18, however, the words provided to us were neither warm nor fuzzy. Indeed, the readings made us squirm a bit because of their directness and anger. "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled".

The Gospel shows us Jesus fulfilling his role as prophet. Prophets see both heaven and earth and instruct us on closing the gap between the two. Prophets urge us to create heaven on earth with a fire in our belly and a passion for change - change for the good, transformational good. The old testament prophets wanted the same. Across time we, again and again, become recalcitrant and must be restored and refreshed in order to continue to work toward that vision of heaven on earth.

The Gospel reminds us that Jesus was not neutral. He was not the spiritual equivalent to Switzerland. Jesus chose sides. He chose the side of the poor, the weak, the imprisoned, the downtrodden. We are to do likewise passionately, purposefully, and relentlessly. Only then can we lessen the space between heaven and earth and move toward that horizon where the two meet.

Thanks be to God.