This is the second in a two part series responding to a question a Strafford neighbor has asked about evil. Jesus said that “evil things come from within,” so last week we focused on evil and the struggle against evil in the human heart. This week we will pick up there and move outward to consider how we can respond as individuals and as a church to the evil we find around us.
The worldwide lectionary for this Sunday happens to include a passage from the prophet Jeremiah about evil shepherds who lead the people astray and neglect their needs and destroy them and their habitat. In response, God says, “I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing.” (Jeremiah 23:1-6)
We will read the 23rd Psalm King James Version and also hear how Jesus had compassion for the people of his day because they were like sheep without a good shepherd. (Mark 6:30-34)
We are the body of Christ, Paul says. We are the followers Jesus calls to do his work and even greater works than his. We are the good shepherds God is raising up for our time and place to confront the evil that is attacking the human flock and the earth and to do all we can to establish the green pastures and still waters and paths of righteousness of God’s realm of compassion, justice and peace.
The urgency of this time in history demands that we decide how we will respond. We will consider where the scriptures and our spiritual tradition are leading us, and how we can discern our specific role.
We will sing hymns and songs of other urgent times that can give us hope and inspiration for our own. The congregation will sing three Freedom Songs and the choir will sing three, and they will be from three different continents–an Argentinian folk song, four South African freedom songs and a song from the American Civil Rights movement. (“The Song of Hope,” “Siyahamba,” “We Shall Not Give Up the Fight,” “Thuma Mina,” “Freedom Is Coming” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”)
Annemieke McLane will direct the choir and play piano pieces by Chopin, Schumann and Rachmaninov.
Here is a video that shows how many church elders are rising up to be shepherds and calling on us to do the same.
You can read the powerful statement that 23 national church leaders have made at http://reclaimingjesus.org/.