Youtube video Fourth Sunday of Easter Yr A May 3 2020
Acts 2:42-47, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10, Psalm 23
On hot summer nights, when every kid in the entire neighborhood was out playing kick the can, my mom would yell out the back door, Kathy! and I’d come running. I heard my mother’s voice, and recognized that I wanted to come running into her wide and wonderful and protective embrace. Jesus is like that in this passage we have from John. Jesus calls our names, and we come a runnin. And Jesus is not just holding the door open wide for all of us, but Jesus is the door through which we find love and life.
So when we look at this passage about the shepherd, we also need to look at where it sits in John’s discourse. The story right before this one in John is the story of the man born blind. How long was he blind? Blind from birth, a long, long, time. The man, blind from birth, hears the voice of Jesus, recognizes who Jesus is, and is healed. Jesus asks the man who was formerly blind, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” And the no longer blind man answers, “And who is he, sir?” Jesus responds, “You have seen him, and the one speaking to you is he.” The formerly blind man proclaims, “Lord, I believe.”
Lord, I believe. This man, blind from birth, and no longer blind, has a whole new life, he can see, the world before him and around him is opened up, the landscape of his life is completely changed. No longer does he sit on the margins, he can see, no longer does he beg, he can see. His life is completely transformed, this is new life indeed.
And immediately we hear another story, really a continuing story, that the abundant life the no longer blind man received, is available to us as well.
Jesus the shepherd, calling my name, calling your name. What is that like, hearing Jesus, the shepherd calling our names? How do we recognize that voice? Kathy, I love you, come to me, let me embrace you, let me give you all you need, let me fill that hole in your heart with life, with love. Come, come with me, walk with me into this amazing place, run into my arms, into my embrace, this place of love, this place of life.
Jesus says, I am the door, come through me, here is a place of protection, of nurture, of sustenance, this is a place created for you. And when our eyes are opened, when we hear and recognize the voice of the one who creates us, and comes to be with us, and loves us, we run through that door.
And what’s more, is that Jesus does this again, and again, Jesus calls his followers by name, but not just you and me, Lazarus as well. You remember, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Jesus arrived at the tomb of his friend, and Jesus wept, and Jesus called to Lazarus, Lazarus, come out! In hearing his name, Lazarus came out, and was unbound, set free. Lazarus, the one who was dead, is now alive.
But it gets even better! It’s not just you and me and Lazarus, Mary as well. Mary stood weeping at Jesus’ tomb. She bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, sitting where Jesus should have been laying dead. She did not know where Jesus had been taken.
She turned around and Jesus was standing there, but she didn’t know him, she thought he was the gardener. Until he spoke to her, until he called her name, Mary! She turned and saw him, teacher! Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” I have seen the Lord!
The abundance of the life Jesus invites us into is shown to us by the healing of the man blind from birth. Being blind from birth is being blind for-ever, and yet this man can see! He recognizes Jesus. This is an abundance that is immense, over the top. The man who was blind, now is saved from darkness. The man who was blind is brought from the margins of the community, into the community.
The man who was blind, has new and abundant life. Lazarus lives! Mary proclaims. We hear Jesus call our name, we recognize Jesus is the door through which we too can see God’s presence with us, making us into a beloved child of God. Giving us sight that enables us to see Jesus in our midst, in ourselves, in one another. Giving us sight that enables us to proclaim, like Mary, I have seen the Lord!
And what’s more, what’s even more over the top, more abundant, more amazing, is that Jesus, the door into God’s embrace, God’s love, is not exclusive or judging. This not about keeping people out, this is Jesus inviting people into new life, abundant life. “I am the door” is to invite people in, to recognize God in the flesh that is Jesus’ new and abundant life. To hear the voice of the shepherd, to walk through the door that is open, is to follow Jesus into Life, abundant life. Life in the here and now and life eternal in the resurrection. Life in the here and now and life even when Jesus leaves us. You are enough, see Jesus, recognize Jesus is God with us, walk through the door, and receive life, abundant life.
As these days of distancing wear on, as we itch to get to a new time of new community, where is the voice of the shepherd, assuring you of abundant love? I hear it in the laughter of my neighbor children playing in the dandelions in the park behind my house. I hear it in the calls and notes and visits from all of you, asking how it's going, encouraging, caring. As our eyes are opened to new ways of being with one another, can we see that we are all hurting, and we are all doing our best. Can we see Jesus among us, in those who don't want to follow the rules, and in those who must be in harms way? We are being called to a new communion, a new way of being, one in which the old barriers are being broken. Our blindness is healed, a new door is opened.