Aloha Friday Message – April 20, 2018 – Flock to the Shepherd

1816AFC042018 – Flock to the Shepherd

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¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Before we get into today’s lesson we extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of you who prayed for us during our catastrophic weekend recently. Officially we are told that the Northern end of Kauaʻi around Hanalei received more than 28 inches of rain in 24 hours. In the 48 hours ending April 15 at 6 p.m., Wainiha got 32 inches of rain (Use the link to see the map). That’s more than Mount Waiʻaleʻale — the wettest place on Earth — which got “only” 22 inches. The flooding was epic. At least 3 homes were completely destroyed, several dozen were badly damaged, Our Mission Church – St. William the Confessor in Hanalei – was rendered unusable, and Hanalei Elementary sustained significant damage as well. Multiple landslides across Kūhio Highway, our main North-South road, stranded residents and tourists. It’s going to be an expensive cleanup and will take quite some time to return to normal. Fortunately no lives were lost, but the property damages on all 7 of the main Hawaiʻian islands is formidable. You can find more news here. We deeply appreciate your continued prayers. Now, down to the business at hand.

John 10:17 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

We all know that tired old debate about the chicken and the egg. The best answer is that the chicken came first because it was what [1] laid the egg, and [2] incubated the egg until it hatched, and [3] mothered the chick to maturity. That makes sense, and contrariwise not much else does. In the same line, we could ask, “Which came first, the shepherd or the flock?” That truly is a tricky question. If we are thinking of Cain and his little brother Able, the answer is that the flock came first because God made all the “living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” (See Genesis 1:24-25). Scripture shows that in verse 26, God decided to create man; so we see that in the Creation story, the flock was there before the shepherd. However, the GOOD SHEPHERD was there before the flock. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus came before Adam (See John 1:2-4), before the cattle, before the dry land, and even before the deep.

It is this same sequence-seeking, seeing which comes first, that sets the scene in our Key Verse for today. Jesus must first lay down his life in order to take it up again. But wait, Jesus is eternal, was there before the sheep were created, and is The Good Shepherd. How can he lay down his life? He can do that because he will willingly sacrifice his own human life in his own human body so that he can take it up again in his own resurrected body. He is eternally The Good Shepherd with or without his human body. He is eternally divine. He cannot be resurrected, though, unless he first dies. We know that makes sense because we know how to answer the question, “Which came first, the Death, or the Resurrection?” The Good Shepherd has always been part of God’s plan for salvation, and it ends with all of us, his flock, being resurrected so when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. (See 1 John 3:2) It is always that way in God’s plan: First things first and Last things last. He has revealed to us that, like a good Daddy, he “saves the best for last.” Let that sink in for a moment.

What is the last thing we do on this earth? We die, and for most of us, that is not a conscious choice. However, that’s not the absolute last thing we do on earth. We also decay. That also is not a conscious choice. These things have to happen first, though, so that the “last things” can happen in their proper order. What, then, is the last thing we experience? Well, properly speaking, the last that happens to us is to be rewarded with eternal life in our resurrected body – also not a conscious choice, but one we willing accept. We are able to accept that reward because of conscious choices we make before we die. What is the last, best, and most important conscious choice we can make before we die?

The last, best, and most important conscious choice we can make before we die is to be in the flock of The Good Shepherd. Let me expose a little flaw in the assertion that the sheep came before the shepherd. The sheep indeed were created before the shepherd, but it is the shepherd that calls together the flock. Without a shepherd, sheep form a herd – a social group of four-legged mammals all of the same kind that live and move together. With a shepherd, sheep become a flock because they come together to move to a different place because of the presence of the shepherd, not because of the instinct of the herd. Sheep choose to follow the shepherd. Now, in popular culture, we regard sheep as mere stupid animals who can be easily led because they don’t think for themselves – hence the term “sheeple.” But let me tell you, unless you have tried shepherding a herd of sheep, you have no idea how obstinately independent they can be. You recall those stories in the Bible about lost sheep? They get lost because they choose not to follow the shepherd. They abandon the flock for their own purposes – however foolish that may be.

The Good Shepherd tells us he lays down his life for his sheep. Shepherding sheep is something that requires presence and committed involvement. Jesus contrasts his care for his flock with the hired man’s lack of care for the flock. Jesus says, This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. (See John 10:12-13 for details) A real shepherd cares more about the sheep, even to the point of risking – giving up – his life for them. One does not lead a flock of sheep by remote control (unless you count this guy on the Internet). The Good shepherd leads his flock. The cattleman drives his herd. The Good Shepherd knows his sheep and they know him and follow his voice. The cattleman may know some of the members of the herd but would be hard-pressed to know if one was missing. There certainly are many ways of managing a large group of social animals, and there are also many types of shepherds.

Good shepherds lead their flocks to good pasture, safe places, and refreshing rest. When it comes to humans as social animals, we have seen shepherds who are not good. They do not lead their flock to protection and rest, but instead lead them to destruction and death. We know that, for the most part, humans choose to follow those shepherds, to become part of those flocks, to listen to those voices. Following that kind of shepherd also ends up in eternal life; but it is a life we should not consciously choose – it is a life without the comforting Joy of the Presence of God and his Angels and his Saints. When we choose to flock to The Good Shepherd, we are the sheep of his flock. We don’t hear about a “flock of buffaloes.” There are some critters that are not inclined to be shepherded. There are limited exceptions of course, but generally shepherds and sheep go together. Our Good Shepherd indeed laid down his life for us so that he could take up his and ours again. Once for all – all time and all his flock – he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (See Hebrews 10:14) And who were those who were sanctified? Those who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (See Ephesians 1:3-4) Isaiah 40:11 11 He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs with his arm, carrying them against his chest, gently leading the mother sheep. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

You can’t roller-skate in a buffalo herd,” (↔ Music Link) and for that matter you can’t roller-skate in a flock of sheep either, but you can choose to flock to The Good Shepherd. He knows you, and he leads you to greener pastures beside still waters. The Good Shepherd leads us in love to Love for Love because he is Love. Blesséd be God For EVER! (See Psalm 118:1)

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Please continue to pray for everyone around the world – not just Kauaʻi – who has suffered the effects of inclement weather. We didn’t choose the weather, but we have chosen to not only survive but to prevail – with God’s and neighbor’s help.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Special bonus shot! Not many people know we have a herd of buffaloes here. Some of them got loose during the storm. You don’t see buffalo on the beach very often.



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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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