In my family, etiquette is a big deal. Growing up, my parents demanded good manners. I had to sit up straight at the table, say “yes sir” and “no ma’am,” be on my best behavior at other people’s houses. In middle school, I was forced, along with many of my classmates, to attend weekly cotillion classes. If you grew up in the south, you may know what I mean. These classes were one part ballroom dancing and one part table manners, which is exactly what every middle school student wants to do after a long day of school.
For the last 3 and half years, we have attempted and achieved Kingdom Work! But, you know Kingdom Work in God’s Kingdom is never done. Doing Kingdom Work is a marathon event, it is not a sprint. It is an event that takes time, talent, endurance, and skills such as listening and applying what you have learned. News Flash! Nothing has changed in over 2,000 years.
Hello, for those of you who may not know me, my name is Kate Alvstad and I am a senior guitar major at Penn-Griffin School for the Arts for the next 30 some hours, but who’s counting? And this fall I will be moving to Boone to attend Appalachian State University where I will be majoring in Social Work.
Seldom do we do things alone or by ourselves. Now, there are a few private things that we do by ourselves, but those excluded a great deal of what we do as human beings is done in conjunction with and surrounded by other people.
Even more so in the life of the church or the faith community. What we do as Christians is surrounded by the fact we have people who are like us, support us, and promise to be with us through thick and thin.
Did you see this story last week? A guy from North Dakota accidentally ran a marathon. How do you accidentally run a marathon? I mean, I’ve had those runs where you’re just feeling it. Where you feel like you can go on forever. But, at most that means I’ll run like a couple miles more than I had planned. Never once have I thought, “Maybe I’ll just go ahead and, instead of running five miles today, I’m going to run 26.2 miles.” That just has never happened!
I don’t know about all of you, but our kitchen contains a hospice ward! A place where good fruit goes to die. It’s in the right hand corner, the side of the kitchen the sink is on. A beautiful banana hanger, a nice bowl for oranges or the “literally forgotten fruit” the apple may rest until the day it makes its way to the cemetery at the end of our stove known as the trashcan. Why, are we as humans so concerned about the way we keep things alive ? Why do we set aside a place in our kitchen to have perfectly healthy fruit, age into the process of decomposition just so we can say we “have fresh fruit” when our friends ask? Or maybe, it’s because we aren’t real sure what to do with the fruit when we get it!
In 1955, Andy Williams recorded one of the greatest love songs known to humankind, “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.” From 1967-1973 this was the theme song for the great soap opera by the same name. Hear the beginning words;
“Love is a many splendored thing, It’s April rose that only grows in the early Spring Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living, The golden crown that makes a man a king...”
We make a gigantic move in our Biblical text this morning, from post-resurrection appearances to kingdom work imperatives. We have before us now very familiar passages both surrounding the nature and relationship of the shepherd. Too often we take these images for granted. In our culture of Biblical reading, we have often elevated the image of the shepherd and the sheep to the equivalent of angelic proportion.
We live in a society that demands the facts! We want to be “sure” of what we see, what we hear, what we witness, and what we believe. There are certain professions in our society that seek to find the facts for a living. One might say those professions are quickly being called into question with the rise of social media infringement; “fake news”, proclaimed un-truths that have been noted by specific recordings or proof that what was said was really NOT said. We seek to find those things that cannot be questioned, that solidify for us a path on which we cannot deviate.