Monthly Archives: April 2015

Fourth Sunday of Easter — Dr. David Walbert

Easter 4, Year B
John 10:11-18
Psalm 23

(In the name of the one holy and living God. Amen.)

I was determined that I was not going to stand up here and talk about sheep, but in thinking about today’s readings I kept being pulled back to the image of them—the shepherd, the flock, the pasture, the sheep. I have to admit I’m just not crazy about that image. It isn’t that I don’t like sheep. I do like sheep. I’ve toyed with the idea of having sheep some day. They’re relatively easy to manage, and they’re good for multiple purposes throughout their life cycles: they give wool, they give meat, some breeds even give milk. They can live off of relatively poor land. They can be integrated fairly easily into a multi-purpose farm and a household economy. And lambing season, if you don’t mind being kept up at night, is a glorious thing. Wendell Berry, one of a dwindling number of literal “good shepherds” the western world has left in this age of industrialized agriculture who also gives us his own eloquent descriptions of the experience, has this to say about keeping sheep:

The old shepherd comes to another
lambing time, and he gives thanks.
He has longed ever more strongly
as the weeks and months went by
for the new lives the ewes have carried
in their bellies through the winter cold.
Now in the gray mornings of barely
spring he goes to see at last
what the night has revealed. 1

Berry is a Christian, which I think shows through pretty clearly in his poetry—not that he is actively trying to convert anyone, but that he never strays very far from the image of rebirth. The care he takes for his sheep is the sort of care we’d want from our own Good Shepherd, but Berry’s is a very human shepherd—a humble one, who “gives thanks” for a lambing time that he, far from controlling in the manner of an industrial foreman or a software engineer, takes as a holy mystery. Continue reading

Maundy Thursday — Dr. David Walbert

“Loving one another on Thursday evening”

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

And so we come to the end.

Jesus has spent three years traveling the length and breadth of Israel, preaching the kingdom of God. He has dined with tax collectors, forgiven prostitutes, and interceded for the condemned; disputed with priests and smashed up the temple. He has turned water into wine and a few hunks of dry bread into a feast for thousands. He has healed the lame, blessed the poor, and resurrected the dead. He has been revealed to his closest disciples as the divine Messiah, come to earth in human form to teach us, among other things, how to be human.

And now, when it’s time for him to go, we see him at his most human. Continue reading