Sermon May 11th 2014 John 10:1-10

It’s Billy Joel who once sang:

Good night my angel time to close your eyes

And save these questions for another day

I think I know what you’ve been asking me,

I think you know what you’ve been trying to say,

I promised I would never leave you,

And you should always know

Wherever you may go

No matter where you are

I never will be far away

That’s what we want to hear isn’t it? That voice. No, not Billy Joel’s specifically… but rather that warm, clear, life giving voice that says “No matter where you go, I never will be far away.”

When it comes down to it, after all is said and done, we want to know unequivocally that we are cherished, that we are treasured, that we are loved.

It is interesting that this text falls on mother’s day of all days. After all there are few people more comforting in many of our lives than our mothers. They are with us from the very beginning.  They know us well before we are even born. It is an intimate and sacred bond. At our birth, her voice is one of the first that we hear and we seek it out, crave it even.  We want to hear our mother’s voice we want to hear them say to us “No matter where you are, I never will be far away”.

I give thanks for the families, particularly my own, in which these words are spoken, in families where these promises are lived out in life giving and healthy ways. But mother’s day also reminds me of all ways in which these words go unspoken. Unspoken to the people who can no longer hear and find comfort in their mother’s voice. It reminds me of those women who have tried so hard to be mothers for so long, whose voice longs to speak words of comfort to a child, yet the nursery stands empty. I think of all those people who heard their mother’s voice, their mother’s promise, clinging to it, only to discover it was a superficial and empty one.

Even in “healthy families”, relationships breakdown, tensions rise, and words cut like a knife; our voices filled not with promises of love but rather with anger and scorn. Our voices, all of our voices, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, the voices meant to bring comfort and love, all too often destroy, tear down and isolate, as brokenness begets brokenness.  

But this is not the voice we hear today is it? We hear a different voice don’t we? We hear the voice of Jesus. The one through whom all things were made. The one who is the Word, the voice made flesh, who was spoken into the darkness at the dawn of creation. The one who knew us before we were even born. It is Jesus our Shepherd who speaks to us today. We hear his voice. He calls to us, calls us each by name. He gives us a new name, forgiven, holy, beloved. Jesus comes to give us life, to bring us back to the God who will not let us go. It is that voice that leads us beside still waters, green meadows, and beautiful open pastures. It is that voice that gives us strength and courage in life’s dark valleys where the voices of hurt and broken promises abound. It is that voice that brings us together, gathers us in to break bread with one another, to pray with one another, to share our lives and our hearts with one another. That voice gives us abundant life. It is that abundant life, that voice that we seek, that we crave, that comes to us through death, death on a cross. It comes to us from a God that would not forsake us, who would suffer complete humiliation and death instead of being separated from us. That is the voice we hear today. The voice of one speaking words of unfettered and unequivocal love. It is the voice of Jesus our Shepherd speaking to Central Lutheran Church, speaking to each one of you, saying:

“I promised I would never leave you,

And you should always know

Wherever you may go

No matter where you are

I never, never will be far away”

Amen.

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