[Jesus said,] “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought. out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” –John 10:2-4
This Easter season, we are exploring the theme, “Out of the Tomb and Into the World. ”That does it mean to witness the empty tomb and be sent into the world by Jesus as Messengers? To what places do we go? Whom do we approach? What mediums do we use to communicate? What words do we choose to say?
In this passage from John, we hear Jesus speak about a shepherd leading his sheep out of the gate of a sheep pen. Like the shepherd, Jesus brings us out into the world, leading us and calling us to follow him. While this is a popular image of comfort for those who desire guidance, it also challenges us to move beyond the “sheep pens” where we are safe and step into the unknown.
Why do we hesitate to follow Jesus’ call? Sometimes, we are not sure how to start. Sometimes, we are not sure if we are adequate to the task. Sometimes, we are not sure that we have heard our calling correctly. Sometimes, the dangers and challenges of walking in today’s world scare us.
This month, we will work together to overcome our doubts and uncertainties, our hesitations and fears. In worship, we will explore various ways that we can share our faith in today’s world. We will discuss places to share, people to approach, as well as mediums and words to use.
Throughout Easter, I encourage you to share pictures, quotes, or news items that remind you of God’s presence in the world. You can post your God sightings to Facebook or Twitter with the hastag #christintheworld, or you can send them to Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also during worship, a ministry leader selected by our congregation’s council will share words of inspiration and encouragement from his or her faith journey. This is an opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and to be inspired to follow our own call. In Bible Study, we will learn about unlikely leaders in scripture and witness how God repeatedly calls imperfect, flawed people to do God’s work in the world.
On Sunday, Jun 11th we will discern our call as a congregation through a special asset mapping event. What is asset mapping? It’s a method of exploring the strengths and resources of a community to meet community goals. As we explore everything we have to freely offer, we can begin to see new and creative ways to fulfill our mission as a congregation: “Empowered by the Spirit, we reach out in joy, witness to God’s love, and help ourselves and our community to grow.”
I look forward to stepping outside of our “sheep pens” this Easter season as we share our faith with the world!