112: Easter 4B in Two Parts! (April 26, 2015)


For Sunday April 26, Easter 4B, Good Shepherd Sunday.

Part 1 - John 10:11-18 and 1 John 3:16-24
Part 2 - Psalm 23 with Special Guest: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
SHOW NOTES -  4/26/2015
Episode 112 Easter 4B
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 112 for Sunday April 26, Easter 4B, Good Shepherd Sunday.

Introduction and Check-in  

Featured Musician -  Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, Psalm 23 Cycle, “All My Days”.

Primary Scripture  -  John 10:11-18 The Good Shepherd
Initial Thoughts

  • Google image of Good Shepherd will lead to millions of responses. One of the most popular images of Jesus, but often softened by idea of guy playing with soft, cuddly animals.
  • Image from the Catacomb of Calixtus, mid 3rd century.

Bible Study

  • Hebrew Bible background to Jesus’ words
    • Ezekiel 34 tells us about the opposite of the good shepherd. Provides warning against the current shepherds of Israel who:
      • Do: Drink the milk, wear the wool, slaughter the fat animals
      • Don’t: Tend the flock, strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost.
      • Instead: Rule them with injustice, scatter the flock.
    • Isaiah 40, which is an Advent reading, compares God, the giver of comfort, to a shepherd.
      • “Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock; he will gather lambs in his arms and lift them into his lap. He will gently guide the nursing ewes.”
    • Jeremiah 2:8 “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers* transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.
      • Note says that the word translated as “rulers” in NRSV, and “leaders” in CEB is also Hebrew for “shepherds.”
  • Read John 9:39-10:21 for fuller context
    • Immediately after Jesus heals a man born blind, who is then expelled by teachers who thought he was below them.
    • The one who was born blind is the one who truly sees.
    • Jesus talking to Pharisees, tells them “I have come into the world to exercise judgment so that those who don’t see can see and those who see will become blind.”
    • Pharisees respond “Surely we aren’t blind, are we?”
    • Jesus’ answer then goes into a long metaphor about sheep and shepherds, of which this passage is a part.
  • David Lose suggests starting lection at verse 10.
    • “I came so that they could have life - indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” interesting CEB translation helps move the verse away from materialism of ‘abundance.’
    • ‘Living life to the fullest’ frames the rest of what a Good Shepherd does.
    • Gives motivation for all Jesus does.
    • Why does Jesus lay down his life? So we may live life to the fullest.
  • “I am good shepherd” is a bold statement. In all metaphors in Scriptures of the Shepherd, God is always the good shepherd - or Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28).
    • Good Shepherd:
      • Lays down his life for the sheep
      • Knows his sheep
      • Sheep know him
    • Other sheep that do not belong to this sheep pen.
      • Reference to the Gentiles.
      • This shepherd is not just for Israel, but because “God so loved the world.”

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • What does it mean to “live life to the fullest?”
  • Davide Lose: “But why? Why does Jesus the good shepherd lay down his life? To tell us that we are, in fact, enough. Jesus, especially in John's gospel, doesn't die in order to make some kind of payment to God or to satisfy God's wrath or to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus, in John's Gospel, is the Revealer, the One who comes to make the invisible God visible and the unapproachable God accessible. Jesus comes to reveal that God loves the whole world, no exceptions.”

Music - Richard Bruxvoort Colligan,  Psalm 23 Cycle, “Surely Goodness and Mercy”

Second Reading: 1 John 3:16-24 Self-giving Love
Initial Thoughts

  • Continuation of 1 John
    • Living in the Light of God
    • Sin and repentance
    • Self-giving love
  • Read 1 John 3:8-15 - for context
  • Just because it doesn’t say shepherd- doesn’t mean avoid this passage! You can keep your 1 John series going

Bible Study

  • Possible commentary on the Gospel of John - interpreting the death of Jesus
    • Jesus died to show us the love we are called to
    • Brian Peterson, Working Preacher, The author is not interested in explaining just how Jesus' voluntary death benefits us. The point is that Jesus' act is the deepest meaning of "love", and so Jesus himself defines the character of the church's life.”
  • Contrasts Cain and Jesus
    • Cain did not love his brother- killed him- and was not of God (1 John 3:12-15)
    • Jesus loves us - is willing to die instead of kill - is of God
  • Love as a way of Life
    • There is no distinction between believing in God, following Jesus and loving your neighbor - they can never be mutually exclusive
    • “It’s the thought that counts” holds no sway here - love must be shown, not simply expressed
    • Love is about putting the other before the self even unto death
    • Very reminiscent of Matthew 24
  • Pervasiveness of Sin
    • Our hearts may not always support the love we are called to
    • We can “love against our will” by obeying the commandments even when we do not want to do so
    • v. 19b-20 have been used a fear tactic - Be careful because God knows you heart - God knows what you’ve been thinking!
      • true- but this passage is much more focused on comfort than condemnation - yes God knows what we have been thinking and sometimes our hearts betray us, but how we act on those inclinations is what is important.
    • God’s commandments are a way of overcoming our inmost thoughts of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, etc. God meets us where we are!

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • How does the church “lay down [it’s life] for our brothers and sisters” v.16?
  • What does it mean to love even when we don’t want to? Can we love someone without liking them? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for our “enemies”?
  • God meets us where we are- not expecting perfection, but for us to act in love. How can we similarly promote love without judging people’s thoughts?

Psalmistry with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan: Psalm 23
Introduction and initial thoughts
Psalm 23

  • A Psalm of David

v1 The Lord is my shepherd…

  • — name for kings, a title for YHWH
  • — political

… I shall not want.

  • — Invites a question of us: in what sense do we “not want?”
  • — Revs: how is this disruptive in an entitlement culture
  • — Tension in a world where a great many seem to be in want. Brueggemann- world as it is, as it could/should be?
  • — A life of trust

v2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

  • — not necessarily comfort (McCann)
  • — forest of Hereth? (I Sam. 22:5)

v3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

v4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

v5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…

  • — eating with Jawas and Sandpeople
  • Robot Chicken - lunch with Darth Vadar in the City of Clouds

…you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

  • — about oil
  • — “I shall not want” theme again

v6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…

  • — Hesed!
  • — Radaf! YHWH as badass stalker and other uncomfortable metaphors
  • — Have you ever wanted to get away from God? Tevye in Fiddler, Psalm 39
  • — Stuck with covenant God: Ps 139, John 10, I John 3

…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

  • — connotations of tabernacle, temple, clan, family

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

  • A full-time Psalmist creating imaginative, adventurous music for the ever-evolving church. Engaged at the intersection of music, spiritual formation and liturgical theology, Richard composes and publishes songs for community singing via his company Worldmaking.net. He has several albums of original worship music, and his songs have been published by the UCC, ELCA, UMC and PCUSA.Richard earned his M.A. in Theology and the Arts from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He is currently immersed in a long-term study of the Psalms, creating community songs for all 150. Faves: bosc pears, the Beatles, laughter, blue, naps, Star Wars. Richard lives with his wife Trish, son Sam and Willow the dog in Strawberry Point, Iowa.
  • Worldmaking.net
  • PsalmImmersion.com
  • Blog: Worldstretching.wordpress.com
  • Twitter: @PoMoPsalmist
  • Facebook: the group: Psalm Immersion Project

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

TY listeners
Shout Outs:

  • TY to RHE and all who shared and retweeted our interview with her
  • Leebob David Saylor - Howdy, I have been listening to your podcast for about 30 episodes so far and I really appreciate what you both do. I don't always agree with what you say, but I find that your process of getting to your thoughts stimulates my creative theology to assure that what I say in the pulpit is engaging, and helpful. I do have two comments to add. I just finished the podcast for 1 John 3:1-87. There was a bit of a debate regarding living in sin compared to living (abiding) in Jesus and being free of sin. Perhaps the John was trying to drive at that living in God is not about being sin free as it is letting go of the sins of others. As you alluded earlier in your Acts conversation, followers of Jesus are to GO OUT, move, do, engage, etc. If we hold onto sin, as is often the reality, then we are no longer abiding in Jesus because we are abiding in a sense of Justice and retribution that is not Godly, but human. So I don't think that it is quite the confusion you guys saw as much as I think that it is showing that you can't have one without the other (love and marriage. Sorry random aside there) Second, I am a Church of the Brethren pastor, (spiritual cousin with my Anabaptist Mennonite sister), and I wanted to hop on the foot-washing conversation. Also a low liturgical church, I have found the service of feet washing to be more profound than any other service I have ever engaged in. It is a service in which all barriers are dropped. There is no one more important than the other. Each have dirty ugly feet that are more representative of our lives than we care to admit. And the act of kneeling before a fellow child of God and washing their feet not only reminds me of Jesus but shows in actions, not words, that I will walk alongside that person no matter what and that their dirty that they see is not what I see. I see someone who is worth loving, worth serving and someone I am humble to be with. I admit the "don't-knock-it-till-you-try-it" comment could be problematic, but please trust that this activity is not about boundaries, it is about community. And this act has done more healing than any other activity I have ever seen. Keep up the great work you guys. I look forward to your podcast each week. And I love your closing song. I grew up on Paul and Storm through Bob and Tom long before I got into ministry, so you strike a satirical chord in my heart each time. Blessings Lee

Featured Musician -Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, Psalm 23 Cycle, “All My Days”, “Surely Goodness and Mercy” and “My Love is My Shepherd”. All can be found at Pulpit Fiction store and at psalm23immersion.com.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Special closing music,  “All My Days”

Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low).