Homily 4th Sunday of Easter Year A - In the Lord's own house shall I dwell

Homily (Sermon) – In the Lord's own house shall I dwell

The Readings for forth Sunday of Easter year A:
Acts 2:14,36-41
Psalm 22
1 Peter 2:20-25
John 10:1-10

[ All these readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

I think we have lost our ability to fully recognise all of the love and caring in our readings today. We hear a lot about sheep in the bible but very few of us keep sheep anymore. The people these stories were originally told too were farmers or friends of farmers. They knew about animals; they knew about sheep and how they behaved. They knew the value of a sheep, the wool, the milk and the meat. They cared for their sheep because without wool, milk and meat their families would be cold and hungry. They knew that most of the time sheep can’t look after themselves, the threats from wolves and other predators were too great.

To look after sheep you need to keep them safe at night, you need to take them to food and water if you want good wool and milk. If you look after your sheep they will trust you, follow you, knowing that the next meal or the next sheltered night will be provided. But sheep are also fickle; they wander off, go astray and get lost. They get distracted by much of the world around them and what doesn't distract scares and panics them. Looking after sheep is a full time job particularly for a shepherd 2000 years ago.

You my sisters and brothers are loved and valued sheep, as am I. You live in a world that distracts you and scares you. You are happy to wander off and get distracted. You are often worried or even scared by the world around you and may often feel alone and confused.  Ours is a world still filled with predators, ours is a world where we very much need to run to our shepherd.

You are asked today to listen, to listen for the voice of your shepherd. You are asked today to follow the voice you know. You are invited today to enter the kingdom of God, you are shown the door, His name is Jesus.

Today’s readings are not meant to be complex theology. They are presented as a simple picture. You are loved, you will be kept safe, you are welcome. God’s house has been built for you.

So why do we sometimes find it so difficult to walk through the door?

I think the reason is that like sheep we are too distracted by the world we live in. Work, family, hobbies and sometimes even Church get in the way of walking up to and through that door.

We miss that wonderful voice in all the noise of the world. You don’t need quiet to hear Jesus’ voice shouting “Follow me, here I am, come this way”, but you do need to be listening.

Just yesterday afternoon I heard that voice. I heard it singing and laughing and joking. I heard it shouting the good news. I heard it at Ashfield Prison in Pucklechurch. The prisoners there were putting on the show Godspell and Gail and I were lucky enough to be invited. We received such a warm welcome along with several dozen other visitors, we watched such a great show and through it you could hear, if you were listening the voice of God saying “through me you are saved, through me is home, through me is joy.” It seems strange to say that I really felt at home in a prison but with Jesus there how could it not be home?

Are you looking for peace, for quiet, for love, for joy, for safety, for rest, for company, for inspiration? Then you need to start by listening. He is everywhere; I assure you, He is calling your name right now. Soon enough you will hear that wonderful voice calling you, soon enough you will see the gate, soon enough you’ll pass through that gateway, pass through Jesus Christ Himself and enter His home.

Today’s Psalm is the perfect listening prayer, the perfect image of our true home. I don’t know where you will next hear His voice, His call, but I hope it’s soon, maybe it now. Pickup today’s psalm, psalm 22, read it again, picture your true home and listen. I promise you, He is calling your name, He is calling you home.

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