Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fourth Easter Sunday: Good Shepherd

Our Pastoral Associate, the Rev. Dean Byrom, has the sermon this morning at St. Andrew's.  But I thought I'd post again here the first few paragraphs of my sermon for "Good Shepherd Sunday" last year.  Just for fun.

Today, this fourth Sunday of Easter, and to reinforce the theme, as we hear as we pray the collect together and the psalm and lessons: Good Shepherd Sunday.

For the first four centuries or so in the Anglican Prayer Book tradition “Good Shepherd” Sunday came a week earlier, the Second Sunday after Easter, what we would now number as the Third of Easter, receiving that name because of the appointed gospel reading from the tenth chapter of St. John.

The older Prayer Book tradition had just a one-year lectionary cycle, and the Good Shepherd reading then was chapter 10, verses 11-16, which is essentially the reading we now have appointed for Fourth Easter in Year B of the three year lectionary—and chapter 10, verse 11 begins exactly with Jesus saying these words, “I am the Good Shepherd.” And then on in Year C we have the third extended passage from the last section of chapter 10, verses 22-30, in which Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Out in the narthex here at St. Andrew’s we have a lovely stained glass window of the Good Shepherd. A traditional image and a touching story really. Jesus with a lamb in his arms. The young rector of St. Andrew’s, Harry Briggs Heald, who died in 1924, suddenly and unexpectedly in his mid 40’s, in the third year of his service as rector, and this window in his memory given by the Children of the Church School, having raised the money themselves. The good, tender, loving pastor.

And as we may remember a few years ago in 2002 we undertook the repair and conservation of that window to honor the Rt. Rev. David Leighton, 13th Rector of St. Andrew’s Church and the only of our now 15 rectors ever to be elevated to the episcopacy, as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.  One of the Chief Pastors of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and of course always a great friend of this wonderful parish.

So here this morning as we are, again . . . .

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