Not entirely sheepish

Signpost for Sunday 23 Nov 2014: Ezek 34:11-16, 20-24; Ps 100 or 95:1-7a; Eph 1:15-23; Matt 25:31-46

I am coming to the conclusion that the ultimate test of veracity about any biblical text is preachability. That is not in the sense of whether it conveniently lays itself out for making a sermon, but whether it points to the ultimate truth that we preach; that Jesus is the revelation of the love of God.

So I ask myself about today’s lections, “Does this illustrate the one who died?” And I wonder!

Ezekiel (and so many others) talks about sheep and shepherds. There are so many of these in Psalm and Prophet and Gospel that it is hard to see if I am supposed to be a lean sheep or a good shepherd; perhaps both at once! Sheep live in a flock; life is togetherness! The shepherd’s life is lived for the sheep. And so on.

The Ephesians are told (probably by a close follower of Paul) that they have faith in Christ and love for others. The Psalmist evokes the sheep, but for New Zealanders, he also points us a month ahead to the arrival of preaching in our country (the first sermon was preached in NZ on Christmas Day,1814). This Psalm is where Marsden began.

It is also where our country began, with the first incorporation of Europeans into tinorangatiratanga (the absolute sovereignty of the Maori chieftains). We can see this as just a purchase of land by Europeans, but the early church missionaries also bought into living in a country that was run by the local chiefs. Perhaps this year, or whenever we have John Key’s referendum, we can ask the first people here if we can come in under their flag. Then Aotearoa would be truly our turangawaewae (literally ‘a place to stand’ more accurately it signifies a place where one feels empowered or connected).

I am meditating also on a suggestion I have picked up that our Gospel reading is best seen as the last of three pictures. Perhaps what Matthew is picturing Jesus as saying is, “Now you’ve heard the story of the Bridesmaids, which tells us we must have the oil of good deeds; then the parable of the talents tells us we must use initiative for God’s reign; now hear what kind of action it is that you will be involved in!”

Andrew

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