The day on the Christian Calendar was All Saints (Observed). Actual All Saints is November 1st. The point of the day is slightly different depending upon the tradition you are in. In a Roman Catholic tradition it is about all the minor saints which might not have been celebrated. In the Lutheran or Protestant traditions it is more about a celebration of the church at rest, and how the communion of saint continues to help the church at warfare. In the Roman tradition that is straightforward – invocation or prayer directed toward the saint. In the Lutheran tat is not the case. Instead the saints become for us living examples. Examples of faith and of life. Lives worthy of thanksgiving. This sermon asks the question “What is a Saint” and explores their role in our lives.
Looking through law/gospel eyes the Good Shepherd and this passage is both severe and sweet. If you are in a position of responsibility here is the model. The two traits of that model are: 1) the model shephed lays down his life for the sheep and 2) the model shepherd knows the sheep. We all fall short of those. In carrying out our responsibilities we more often look like that hired man and occasionally we are the wolf. The good news is that we have a good shepherd. A shepherd that did lay down his life for his sheep, and a shepherd that knows us each by name and calls us. Christians may be scattered in many folds (nations, denominations, churches), but they all know the voice of the Good Shepherd. God, in his sovereignty, choose to be our Good Shepherd. We will lack for nothing.
The Holy Spirit must be at work. A sermon from the Gospel of John that – I think – made sense. I should mention two works that have been great in helping me understand John a little better. The first is William Barclay’sDaily Study Bible Series. It is hard to find a writer who packs as many insights and spot on information into a devotional format that does not take an expert to read and understand. If you are looking for a devotional book that is deeper than something like the portals of prayer, but not too long or technical, Barclay is a great place to start, and I know that the Henrietta library has several copies on the shelves. The second work is by the Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown. Father Brown would not be a layman or woman’s writer, although he is clear in his writing. He assumes a great deal of knowledge that the typical lay reader just wouldn’t have. There are also nagging questions about Father Brown’s “method” of interpretation. What I mean by method is that Raymond Brown is a critical scholar. To the critical scholar the text of scripture often becomes nothing more than a human writing. The doctrine of inspiration is often tossed out the window, especially when the text contrasts with what modern presuppositions (like there are no miracles) would say. Father Brown uses the methods of critical scholars, but one never gets the sense that he disregards the inspired nature of scripture. Given all those caveats, why am I mentioning this work? Father Brown was a profound and insightful guy. In the modern world, “the poisoned fruit of a poisoned tree” approach is not helpful, if it ever was. To speak to the modern culture that is critical and has torn down everything requires interaction and understanding of that culture. Raymond Brown does not run from that interaction. Much critical scholarship is sterile and fruitless. Raymond Brown’s is neither.