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Rachel Chao, Joshua Turpin, Natalie Caballero
April 29, 2012
1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
You, Me, All Y’all – Youth Sunday Sermon – Rachel Chao
“How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
He was questioned this at the well. I’m sure he was thirsty. If someone questioned my motives asking for water during that hot, Texas-y afternoon, I’d be tempted to throw them in the well.
Oops. The Samaritan woman asked the elephant in the room.
Hey, you’re seemingly different from me in every way. Why on earth are we even conversing?
There are those awkward stand-offs in social faux-pas daily. Between the wealthy businessman and the homeless guy on the street. Between the dorky clarinet player and the star football MVP in the school hallway. Between the Jew and the Samaritan.
I have these moments as much as anyone, if not a million times more. I hate those times where you’re aware that the human being standing right across from you and yourself have nothing (I mean NOTHING) in common, and you’re both thinking, “So… What now?”
Moments, faux pas, standoffs, whatever you call them, like these on a hot day at noon at the well are what makes us human and awkward.
But, oh dang, Jesus. He does not really pay attention to those social rules that others covet, heck no. When Zacchieus was up in the tree, he didn’t do the calm thing of making a mental note to talk to him later. No, he yells at the guy and asks for a dinner invite.
(I don’t think Jesus feared the moments where others wanted to kick him and say “Jesus, that’s weird, cut it out.”)
See, I think he was aware of this thing you and I don’t enjoy recognizing.
We’re all in the same herd.
You. Me. The man that raps to himself on the bus. The girl that posts too many photos of her cats on Facebook.
Same flock. All of y’all.
Here’s the other thing we fail to pay attention to: every sheep knows the shepherd by name. Every. Single. One. The Lord knows each and every one of us, and protects us.
We are awkward humans. We draw these lines and say, “You stay there, I’ll stay there, and it’ll be fine.” We ignore the fact that we’re all connected. We’re all aching for love and hope and celebration. We all need a hug from a stranger once in a while, we all want to get flowers, we all mourn over a loss.
The shepherd calls us (Us, PLURAL) by name and protects us (plural again!). Protects you, loves me, welcomes all y’all.
When someone says God only loves certain people that act a certain way and believe a certain thing, I call it a load of bull, in complete honesty.
The God I love, the God that loves you too, is too darn big and too darn loving to make a VIP list. The God that calls us loves all of us. Not just Americans, not just liberals, not those that make more than 400K a year.
Whether you are gay, or straight, or finding your way, you’re loved.
If you update your Facebook status way too constantly, you are welcomed.
Youth Sunday Sermon – Joshua Turpin
“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Nearing the culmination of Jesus’ ministry, John records this important parable. Important, because Jesus tells it in three different ways. There seems to be a desperately important message somewhere underneath these simplistic concepts.
“My sheep know my voice, but not that of a stranger”. We know that Jesus is the shepherd, and that we want to be His sheep, but what does it mean for us today to know Jesus’ voice?
One Thursday a few months back, I was picking my mother up from Community Bible Study and overheard a conversation that spoke directly to my soul. A lady was giving advice to a friend. She was talking about how important it was to read the bible every day, that without that immersion into the word, she would lose her godly focus and be open to spiritual deception. These words convicted me on the spot. My earlier dedication to daily study had waned and the time I had set aside had been conscripted by other things, good things; but as I later thought, what could be more important than reminding myself of GOD’s words.
There are so many voices today, calling us to follow: money, beauty, fame, acceptance, to name only a few. So many rival shepherds, who lead us astray; and when trouble comes, they abandon us to the painful repercussions of our foolish decisions.
The word made flesh no longer walks among us, but GOD’s word is still available to us through the bible. Each of us has the opportunity to listen to Jesus, meditate on his words, and act out their bewildering truths. Too often we take these words for granted; too often we let our laziness smother the fire that the Spirit would kindle in our hearts. Jesus said,“The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life”. They are the one life-line, in the midst of a sea of deadly lies.
Have you ever seen a hand crank radio. You see them in camping stores, usually about yea-big, and you turn the crank and set your station. Now imagine that you somehow get lost in a massive forest. And as just you luck would have it, there is a flash-flood raging your way. Now, while desperately wondering from one twisting path to the next, a park ranger finds you and hands you one of these devices, telling you the one station that directs you to the nearest shelter. Moving on to find others, you are left on your own holding this device. You find the channel, but also discover that, surprisingly, to either side are stations broadcasting music, soothing conversation, and even an engaging discussing of the up-coming election. To tune into the directions to safety, you must tune out the other voices. And to make matters more complicated, the sound of music has made the trees less menacing, the danger less real. It would be nice to let go of this fear, you think, easier, pleasanter, to tune out the raucous, demanding voice of the operator. Not only that, but you find that as the charge on the radio runs out, the voice of direction begins to fade, imperceptibly at first, into stillness. Will you find a way to justify stalling the remorselessly steady recharging required to keep direction alive? Will you let the other, sensible, enjoyable voices tune out the only one that leads away from death?
As I look down the path ahead of me, I see that there will be trials. No matter where I go, I know that phony shepherds and the looming wolves who haunt their deluded flocks will always be dangerously near. It will be up to me to choose Jesus, to the spend the time and effort to know his voice and follow his lead by reading and living out his word. There are many uncertainties that lie in the path before me, but this I know for sure. That Jesus will never let those who follow Him come to permanent spiritual harm. Bumps and bruises I will suffer, but he will safely guide my spirit home.
Following his lead – Youth Sunday Sermon – Natalie Caballero
Jesus is our good Shepherd! He calls each of us to follow him by name. He gives us clear direction and speaks to us every day. When we hear his voice we know him and know exactly what he intends for us to do. Simple enough, right? We just listen for Jesus’ voice, and do exactly as he says and our life will be sweet. Except it seems like it doesn’t quite work that way. I don’t know about y’all, but haven’t ever heard Jesus, himself, personally calling me, by my name.
So, if I am not sure that I am hearing the voice of Jesus, how am I supposed to know if I am following him? How can I be certain of what he wants for my life?
The most difficult thing for most people to-do is to live their life, as a follower of God by not only coming to church and hearing the word, but by living the word in their daily life. So how do we live the word?
“Being uncertain of our calling is entirely natural” or at least that’s what my college councilor told me, when I was deciding where to apply for college last fall. She told me to start by looking where I had leadership positions; she said that my commitment to certain activities showed where my interests and passion truly lied. So, that is the key to finding my calling, looking in places that I felt comfortable enough to lead others. This seems to be a normal assumption in our society, that you are what you do. Maybe that’s why people feel pressured to gain the prestige associated with leadership like titles and scholarships or raises. Colleges now look for people that have leadership positions in the activities they are involved in, as if the pressure to lead weren’t already strong enough. I was told to really work a leadership angle in my college essays and use words like manager and organizer to describe my roll activities I had been a part of.
As a senior this year, I have had a lot more leadership than I ever have before. And while I was blessed with rolls such as cake club president and editor-in-chief of the yearbook, these titles also came with the responsibility of managing large groups people every week. And when you get 20 high school girls in a club devoted to baking, there is bound to be some sort of drama. I had to deal with not only organizing the club but also dealing with the commotion of leadership transitions, who got to bake for what teacher, and finalizing hundreds of layouts. At times the stress associated with these rolls overwhelmed me to the point that I was no longer leading the club with a clear mind and strong focus. I no longer was leading with an open mind or kind heart; I no longer was leading as one of Jesus’ followers.
How can we lead and follow at the same time? It seems impossible, being both a leader and a follower.
But there is a large group of people in our society who do just that on a daily basis, teachers. Teachers that have made impact on my life have lead because they love what they are doing. Based on the current salaries of a teacher we know their actions are not based upon greed, they work for the greater good of those they are teaching. They work so that those around them will better understand the world. While still some teachers like my government teacher, like their job because it has good vacation options, insurance and a steady salary, these are the few that do it not for the security offered by a federal job, but in order to better the community around them. These teachers live their lives for others, reflecting the image of Jesus whether they realize it or not. Their strength, power, sympathy, kindness and mercy that they display in the classroom directly mirror that of our ideal leader.
Jesus tells us in this passage that we are his sheep. I take this as a very generous complement. Sheep are ideal followers. They are such great followers that if their shepherd tries to lead them by applying pressure to side or behind them, they will attempt to go back, behind their shepherd in order to better follow his lead. By comparing us to these overly committed followers, Jesus describes our natural desire to be lead. But if we can’t hear Jesus at all hours of the day, how are we supposed to follow him?
I think the best way to follow Jesus is to mirror him and lead his sheep.