Homily preached at Winmalee on Sunday May 11th 2014
Fourth Sunday of Easter Br. Andrew
Here is something to think about:
This quote, in its turn appeared in a pamphlet written by a Baptist by the name of Carolyn D. Blevins entitled “The Priesthood of All Believers”
The Priesthood of All Believers
I Peter 2: 1-10
Today I shall be focusing on this verse from our second reading 1 Peter 2:9;
9 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
Jesus has given us the gift of new life, as a priest offering his ultimate sacrifice, he sacrificed his life for us and he chose us, His believers to be priests.
When we think about a priest, we tend to think of some one who believes in a Eucharist wherein the elements of bread and wine are somehow changed into flesh and blood.
We are a Non-denominational Sacramental Community but the Sacrament does not reside on the Table or in the beliefs of the one leading the service but in the heart and Spirit of those remembering Jesus through it.
So for us being members of a royal priesthood, being priests has far more meaning than perhaps it does for members in the more traditional denominations, because the Sacrament is within our relationship with the Father rather than in a Doctrinal statement, place, person or ritual. Our priesthood sits within our relationship with the Father and with his Word the Lord Jesus
We are a community of Priests each ministering and shepherding one another not because of any special training, but because Jesus says we are; and through the Holy Spirit has given us various gifts to use to do so. Our priesting is an everyday sacrifice of joyful praise and service as we take up our various joys and burdens each day. We are always priests, not just on Sunday and we do have the Good shepherd to help us.
Let’s examine the Gospel now and see how the Master does it.
Gospel John 10:1-10
Even in Palestine today several flocks of sheep may be sheltered in the same fold for some short time. A gate man – one of the other shepherds will sit at the entrance to the fold to guard it and will allow the other shepherds to enter. When that shepherd takes his sheep out of the fold he has a special call for them and all the sheep follow him, he has given them all a name and they come when they are called and the shepherd knows instantly whether any are missing. They will run from a stranger.
Jesus is the doorway both into and out of the fold and we wait his bidding before we come in or go out and we trust him to lead us to good pasture and fresh water. Jesus knows us by name, so intimately that he knows when we are distracted and out of full communion with him in our Relationship with him. Whenever we become so seriously lost as to miss curfew then Jesus who instinctively knows our absence knows just where to find us and comes and does so.
As priests in his new kingdom we need to practice our shepherding, getting to know those with whom we interact, the special words that will draw them to God through our Priesting. Their bolt holes when times are bad; the kinds of nourishment they need; to know our own limitations; to recognise when a relationship with Jesus is faltering and with prayer, practise and consultation with other priests pray out what might be done or not.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand the analogy but we are to Jesus as our fellow community members are to the sheep and the sheep need their shepherd. Greater than this:
Since we are all members of a royal priesthood, what is very interesting about this concept is that each one of us is both Shepherd and sheep – we are all Christs and all in need of Christ at one and the same time. Like a neatly woven sheep fold pulling together to keep ourselves safe from the robbers and daemons who would wrench us apart.
Priesting is a vocation we are called to, if necessary 24/7, there can be no Roster, whenever we find ourselves called, we priest & Shepherd.
In celebrating Liturgy; priests such as Sr. Agnes finds pleasure in the Prayer Table, Lee as Parish Secretary, Ashley our fund raiser, Stephen our Mr. Music. .. We all serve each other in our various ways, we are a fold of shepherds & sheep sometimes each one of us is at once Shepherd sheep and priest-
At our lowest & most fearful we are only sheep- & if we have learned well at the Master's feet; we will know our own voices.
I feel we have an interesting time ahead.