SERMONS BY PASTOR DANA NEWHOUSE APRIL 22, 2018

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1 SERMONS BY PASTOR DANA NEWHOUSE APRIL 22, 2018 Children's Sermon Theme: Jesus loves us Object: Pictures of a pet How many of you have a pet? The most popular are cats and dogs, but birds and fish are also quite popular. Some children like hamsters or Guinea pigs for a pet. Here are a few pictures of our dog, Blackie. If you choose to have a pet, it is a big responsibility. You must be willing to take care of it. You have to feed it and make sure it has plenty of water. You must keep it clean and take it to the veterinarian when it is sick. You have to make sure your pet is kept in a safe place and, if it wanders off and gets lost, you must go and look for it and bring it back home. As I think about having a pet and taking care of it, I am reminded about something that Jesus said about himself. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd." A shepherd is a person who takes care of sheep. Sheep can't take care of themselves. They need someone to watch over them and care for them. They need someone to protect them from harm. Jesus said he knows his sheep and his sheep know him. He said that he was even willing to lay down his life for his sheep. Jesus must really love his sheep! As you might have guessed, Jesus wasn't really talking about sheep. He was talking about you and me. He loves us, he takes care of us, he makes sure that we have everything that we need. He was even willing to give his life so that you and I could live with him forever in heaven. Let us pray, Good and Gracious God, we are thankful to you for being our Good Shepherd. Thank you for loving us and taking care of us. Most of all, we thank you for laying down your life for us so that we can have everlasting life in heaven with you. Let us be reminded of this every time we see a pet or a picture of a pet this week, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen. Sermon: John 10:11-18 #4 * Grace and Peace to you all from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Have you ever noticed an infant turn its head instinctively toward the sound of its mother s voice? April 22, 2018 Page 1 of 5

2 Have you had the experience of being able to tell by the look on your child s face that he or she is not feeling well? Has a close friend ever said to you, I can tell by your expression that something is wrong? We know some people on a superficial level by name, face or reputation. We know other people family members and close friends, for example on a deeper level. We know their stories and they know ours. We grasp the meaning behind each other s facial expressions. Sometimes, we can finish each other s sentences. Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Jesus is our good shepherd. Jesus knows us, and we know him. So, how are we able to really know Jesus, a man who lived so long ago, a man who is also, at the same time, one with God? One way we know Jesus is through the God's Word. The New Testament contains Jesus sermons, parables and instructions about being a disciple. We see in Jesus the example of what it means to live faithfully and honor God. We come to know Jesus when we spend time reading and studying the Bible. We also grow to know Jesus when we share conversations with other believers, when we gather to worship with our faith community and when we spend time in prayer. Jesus called himself the good shepherd. The people in Jesus day were well acquainted with the life of shepherds and the habits of sheep. Shepherds spent their days out in the fields with their flocks. In the evenings, they often returned to their villages and led their flocks into a common sheep pen for the night. The flocks intermingled in the pen, and for the most part, sheep look alike. Yet, in the morning, each shepherd had only to call his flock. The sheep knew the sound of their shepherd s voice. The flocks separated, and each flock followed its own shepherd. When we come to know Jesus, we can hear his voice above all the other noise in the world. We listen for Jesus voice and we follow. To help us put today s Gospel reading in perspective, I think we need to start with the words we hear in just one verse earlier than our reading today; in verse 10, Jesus says; I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly. April 22, 2018 Page 2 of 5

3 Abundant life. That phrase, as much as any in the Bible, captures what most people seem to long for. Not just more life, but abundant life. Jesus in this passage makes a promise, a huge promise, a life-changing promise. But Jesus is not the only one who makes a promise. Most of the ads we see every day also promise abundant life, but it is abundance understood precisely as more -- more money, more possessions, more cars, more romance, more FB Friends, more... well, you can fill in the blanks as well as I can of all the things advertised that are promising to give us more. Of course, there's a cost to buying into this scheme. First, you need to believe that you are not good enough and do not have enough. That you are not worthy, of love and respect and happiness unless you purchase whatever is being advertised. That is, many ads work precisely by creating in us a sense of lack, a sense of profound insufficiency. And the only way to satisfy that lack is to buy the product in question and that's the enticement of ads. The second cost is that it's not true. Whatever you buy -- clothes, cell phone, car, deodorant, hair color dye, whatever and these all may be just great in and of themselves. But guess what? It's not going to fill that sense of need or rid you of that sense of lack. In fact, disappointed once again, you may end up going shopping again -- or overeating, or settling for someone who doesn't value you, or whatever -- hoping against hope that this time it'll work, and you'll be acceptable. Now, with this in mind, hear again the promise of Jesus: "I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly." But Jesus doesn't just make a promise, he puts his money where his mouth is. Or, more accurately, he puts his life where his promise is: Jesus says: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." And "I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." But why? Why does Jesus the good shepherd lay down his life? I believe that Jesus does this to tell us that we are, in fact, enough. April 22, 2018 Page 3 of 5

4 In John's Gospel, Jesus is the Revealer, the One who comes to make the invisible God visible for us, and the unapproachable God approachable for us. Jesus comes to reveal that God loves the whole world, no exceptions. Jesus comes, that is, to tell us that we are already loved, that we are enough, that we need no particular brand of clothes or car or certain someone in our life or high status job or big bank account or list of achievements or anything else to be deserving of God's love. Jesus comes to tell us that when it comes to God's love -- we've already got it. I think that can be hard to believe sometimes because so many messages, so much money, are devoted to trying to tell us that we are not enough, that we are not worthy of love, that we need to earn our acceptance. But I must tell you that that is not true, and what is true, is that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep -- for us! -- simply out of love. Listen to the words of Jesus' message: "I lay down my life for the sheep," he says. "I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." Jesus, in other words, didn't come just for the original group of disciples. He came also for us, and we are now invited to hear and believe this message of grace and acceptance and to share it with each other and all those we meet. I believe that Jesus' message of love needs to be said again and again, by all of his disciples. If we don't remind ourselves of this message, who will? "You are a loved child of God, and you are enough." This is part of what it means to be the Body of Christ -- gathered together on Sunday around God's Word and Holy Communion to remind each other of God's promises and speak Jesus' message of love, acceptance, and grace to each other. And, who knows, maybe having had the chance to practice saying these words to each other we'll find the courage to say them to others in our lives as well. We continue the work of helping others come to know Jesus and accept the good news that God loves them when we invite someone to worship or a Bible study,... we are offering them the opportunity to know Jesus and God's Grace. And when we offer food, clothing and hospitality in the name of Jesus, we are showing God's love for us by example. April 22, 2018 Page 4 of 5

5 Today, we are reminded of the love and sacrifice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, the one who comes to grant us our hearts desire by telling us in word and deed that we are enough, enough to love, enough to die for, and enough to live for. Thanks be to God for that message. Amen. * John 10:11-18 [Jesus said:] 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father. April 22, 2018 Page 5 of 5

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