The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘sheep

The invisible congregation

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Yesterday evening, I sent out a brief and innocent tweet: “Preaching to an invisible congregation is more exhausting than I thought.” I was surprised by the tide of earnest response that it garnered from tired pastor-preachers.

Why should that be? What can we—pastors and preachers, and congregations—do about it? Answering that question will tell us a lot about our theology of preaching and our theology of the church, for better or for worse.

We must first take account of the limitations of pre-recorded or even livestreamed preaching. Perhaps the best way to communicate this is to give a précis of what I said at the beginning of our video recordings yesterday. It went something like this:

We are grateful to all who are joining us (from our own congregation and others) but we need to issue a necessary reminder.

While some means are better than others, because they have more dimensions of communication, recorded videos, livestreams, and the like are not a substitution for the gathering of the church, but reflect an interruption of it.

Genuine biblical preaching is a living man among living men before the living God: it involves a supernatural reality along appointed channels—both preacher and congregation subject to the immediate operations of the Holy Spirit and both communicating with each another under his influence.

In the absence of a congregation, those dimensions of real preaching are stripped away; the livestream or recording further diminishes that reality because of the extra distancing involved.

We are not, therefore, trying to accomplish what cannot be done. We are not setting out to replicate, by electronic means, the vital spiritual reality of the gathered people of God in the presence of our God under the Word of God.

These efforts are not a replacement for the gathered church but a supplement for the scattered church.

The situation we face keeps us spiritually hungry; this temporary and limited provision stops us spiritually starving.

These scraps will, with the blessing of God, keep you going, but they should also make us long for the restoration of the weekly feast and the laying of the eternal banquet.

That gives something of the backdrop to the challenges we face. Without denying the care of our Heavenly Father, or the goodness of the Good Shepherd, or the might and mercy of the Holy Spirit, the simple fact is that this situation robs us of the normal means and channels by which this act of preaching is normally conducted. That dynamic preaching triangle—in which the Holy Spirit is operating along three planes, involving God and the preacher, God and the congregation, and the preacher and the congregation, each operating upon each other with or under the Spirit’s superintendence—is missing one of its corners.

For the congregation, the mentality of ‘going to worship’ is reduced. Under these lock-down and shut-in circumstances, we are being encouraged to maintain a routine for home-working, to get into the groove of labour despite being not in the normal place of labour. In a similar fashion, getting up, getting ready, and getting out for worship, going to a particular place for that particular activity, helps to put us in mind of what we are about.

Add to that the fact that the congregation is now typically in a different and potentially distracting environment. One of the advantages of Dissenting chapel architecture is its deliberately clean minimalism, removing many of the elements which might otherwise take our hearts off the preaching and hearing of the Word of God. Now, the inventive or unfocused mind will find and have a hundred ways still to do that … the animal outside the window … the number of panels in the ceiling or wall … the play of the sunlight … the preacher’s verbal tic … the agitation of the family with the young children … the reflection of light from a watch face. Been there, done all that! But, the fact remains that many church buildings are uncluttered spaces designed to focus the attention on the preaching. Our homes are not the same. There are all the things that we are accustomed to do, all the things that we would not have to worry or think about if at home. We lack the gracious pressure of a whole congregation helping to establish a reverent and attentive atmosphere. We can get up and brew up, we can pause the preacher, we can relax in our comfortable chair and drift away. There is also the novelty factor, especially for those who have children. The fact that it isn’t ‘church’ can make it harder for our children to adapt.

And then, the preacher himself is not there to engage with them, to pick up on the ebbs and flows of a congregation and its listening. This is no longer a mutually responsive environment. Perhaps they are tuning in to someone else who is not even their pastor and usual preacher, so he is not even preaching with them in mind. The reality of this particular under-shepherd feeding this particular flock which he knows and for which he is, under God, responsible, is gone.

The preacher is, perhaps, aware of much of this. It may be that he has some very similar challenges for himself, for many were attempting broadcasts from a study or living room or kitchen. He is not in his typical environment for preaching. Perhaps he is sitting when usually he is standing, behind a desk when usually behind a pulpit. Distractions which are usually absent (barring those of the congregation!) are now painfully present.

Or perhaps he is preaching from a church building, and he has only before him rows of empty seats (perhaps a few family members), or just a camera (perhaps not even an operator). (Our recording involves a quick jog to press a button and back to the pulpit.) Now he is missing all the cues which, under God, normally stir his soul. The regular rhythms of gathered worship which so often generate spiritual momentum are absent. Worse, there are no people, no faces, no responses. And he is, or should be, conscious that—whether livestreamed or recorded—he has to overcome, under God, some of the congregation’s disadvantages, wherever they may be and under whatever circumstances they might be listening. And so he begins to preach … except it’s barely preaching. His normal thinking and feeling are all undermined by the absence of that natural and spiritual give-and-take which characterises real public ministry. He never was a mere automaton, spouting religious words. He struggles to concentrate, to maintain intensity, he has no external cues for the ebb and flow of the sermon, no external prompts for getting, keeping, or recovering the attention of a body of people. He is not so much leading the flock to the green pastures as pinging vitamin pellets at them with a catapult. Perhaps he is not sure where to look—at the camera, at the seats, out the windows. He does not want merely to read, but he struggles to do more than speak. Everything feels flat, and there is a possibility that he will over-compensate, and try to do what—under the circumstances—is nigh-on impossible to be done, and end up not with a flat mess but with a hot one.

And, then, perhaps worst of all for him, he may have an opportunity down the line to watch or hear a recording of himself, which—as most preachers know—leaves us ready to crawl into a deep dark hole of mourning and regret (or maybe just a real deep, dark hole), taking perpetual vows never to preach again, let alone in front of a camera, for his own sake, and the sake of all whom he loves and whose sanity he cherishes.

And that leaves us with the last point of that dynamic triangle: God. This is a good place to be left! If it were not for our Lord’s blessing upon regular ministry, it would be at least as bad as that usually, if not worse. It is he who, by his Spirit, establishes all those connections and makes them lively with heavenly forcefulness. The usual means he has appointed are no longer in place. The usual channels of blessing are dry or blocked. But, as a well-established Confession of Faith puts it, “God in his ordinary providence makes use of means, but he is free to work without, above, and against them as he pleases.” Praise God that it is so! What we are doing is just not church, and it is not quite preaching, but that does not stop the Lord blessing the usual means under unusual circumstances, using unusual means to usual ends, or even using unusual means to unusual ends. After all, there are many saints in many churches who are genuinely unable to attend regular services, and the Lord in his mercy makes what would normally be limited means sufficient not just to survive but even to thrive. Why should be not be able to do the same, even under these circumstances, for all of us?

With all that in mind, let me offer some practical suggestions. Members of congregations might plan to meet at a regular time (if livestreaming, this may be already in place). Whether individually, or as a family, prepare to be in a certain place at the appointed time, with everything set up and, if possible, tested. Do not go full slob: wash and dress as you would for church. Minimise distractions where possible—no food or drink, silence your phones, do not be preparing a meal or worrying about other responsibilities. Pray before you press play. Focus on the preaching of God’s Word. You may not be worshipping with the church, but you are and still can be worshipping God. Some technologies allow for commenting and interacting. Perhaps it is worth leaving that alone, and focusing on the listening? Pray afterward, alone or with others, for a blessing on what you have heard. Use what technology is available to interact with others afterward: pick up the preaching with family or friends, maybe send the preacher a message of encouragement to remind him that someone human was engaged and engaging. Be thankful to God for the wonderful means that are available for you to obtain something. And do pray for your pastor. He is trying to feed your soul from a distance. He is like a shepherd looking out over distant fields, seeing his sheep from afar, chained up and only able to lob something good in their general direction.

Pastors, too, should perhaps seek to maintain, as much as possible, their usual routines, even if their sermons are necessarily adapted to the present crisis and its particular circumstances. It is no bad thing to wash and dress as if you were ‘going to church.’ If you can, sing and pray, even if alone, so that your soul is stimulated and enlivened by those spiritual exercises. Whether at home or in a church building, it may help not so much to imagine as to visualise the congregation. Remember the faces to which and the lives into which you are normally preaching. In the same way as you normally preach to the people who are or who you wish be be in front of you, and not the people who might listen later, on this occasion speak as if to the people who are normally in front of you, regardless of who might hear it otherwise.Do not so much speak to a camera as through it. You may need to speak more briefly and pointedly, both to help you stay engaged and focused, and to help those hearing or watching to do the same. And then, when you have finished, do what you usually do—go to God with all your failings and feebleness, and ask him to bless what will lie dry and dusty on the surface of the soul without his gracious ploughing to carry it home and his refreshing mercies to cause it to spring up into life. Expect to be drained, perhaps in different ways or in different aspects of your humanity to the usual. Make sure you rest, and think about your labours, and learn how better to communicate truth under these circumstances, for as long as they may last. How thankful we should be that, though we may be physically far from the flock of Christ, we can still bear them up in our hearts, knowing that the Good Shepherd has promised that he will be with them always, even to the end of the age!

When all is said and done, do not expect it to be real church and do not expect it to be real preaching. Even with the blessing of the triune God, it cannot and will not be that. And so, let preacher and hearer alike be stirred up to eager anticipation for the day when we can once again see each other face to face, so that your joy may be full (2Jn 12), and when we—together in the presence of God—hear the word of life once more.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 23 March 2020 at 16:34

The shepherd’s responsibilities and liabilities

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It is not, perhaps, a locus classicus for the pastoral office, but Genesis 31.36-42 certainly gives us some impression of the liabilities and responsibilities of the shepherd as understood by the men who used that phrase of their protectors and rulers. Perhaps a similar picture begins to emerge in 1 Samuel 17.34-36, where David tells Saul that “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” So, are there any incidental lessons to learn from Jacob’s defence?

Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me?

Shepherding is a thing in which there is much scope for wickedness and all manner of abuses with regard to the flock and the One whom we serve. There are many trespasses and sins to which a shepherd may be prone.

Although you have searched all my things, what part of your household things have you found? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us both!

It is possible nevertheless to live with that necessary degree of blamelessness (1Tim 3.2) which commends one’s God and one’s service to him and to his flock, and a shepherd is entitled to prove his faithfulness should occasion require it.

These twenty years I have been with you;

Shepherding is often a long-term investment. It is not a matter to be quickly taken up nor a duty to be swiftly and lightly relinquished.

your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young,

There is a tenderness required of the shepherd, a care for the weakest and neediest of the flocks.

and I have not eaten the rams of your flock.

The shepherd does not take advantage of his position, either defrauding the owner or abusing his privileges.

That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you;

There are beasts, and they rip into the flock. There are wolves, lions, and bears with which the shepherd must contend. Sometimes they get through.

I bore the loss of it.

The shepherd takes responsibility for his charges. Their blood is on his hands if he is neglectful or careless in his duties.

You required it from my hand,

The shepherd is accountable to the one who commits the flock into his hand. The shepherd must give an account for the manner in which he has discharged his duty.

whether stolen by day or stolen by night.

There are predators and thieves who lurk in every place, waiting to strike out of light or out of darkness. The shepherd must be constantly on guard.

There I was!

Talk about “incarnational ministry”! This faithful shepherd is among his flock, not sitting comfortably at a safe distance but sharing their experience and feeding, protecting and nurturing them wherever they may be. He is with them in the truest sense.

In the day the drought consumed me,

The days are long and hot, and the shepherd is worn down by the labour of them.

and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes.

The nights are long and cold, and the shepherd is wearied by his constant endeavours as he keeps watch over the flock. He gives up a degree of necessary rest in order to discharge his responsibilities.

Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.

What a mercy that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Great Shepherd in whose footsteps we follow and whose flock we tend, is more faithful than Laban ever was: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1Pt 5.2-4).

Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked you last night.”

Here is the hope and consolation of every true shepherd. There may be no rewards on earth. There may be little to show for his years of affliction and labour, but – if God be with him – there is a reward to come: he does not walk away empty-handed if, in dependence upon God’s grace, he has faithfully discharged his responsibility. He may have nothing in the present age, but he is rich in the age to come.

Seeing all this, should we not be the more thankful for that Great Shepherd of the sheep who in his life and by his death has secured the everlasting good of the flock of God’s pasture, and who will see the labour of his soul and be satisfied?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 17 June 2011 at 12:59

Of sheep and shepherds

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David Murray draws on his Highland experience to speak of sheep and of shepherds.

Sheep are . . .

  • foolish.
  • slow to learn.
  • unattractive.
  • demanding.
  • stubborn.
  • strong.
  • straying.
  • unpredictable.
  • copycats.
  • restless.
  • dependent.
  • the same everywhere.

The shepherd is a sheep.

The shepherd . . .

  • is patient with his sheep.
  • knows his sheep.
  • values his sheep.
  • loves his sheep.
  • observes his sheep.
  • feeds his sheep.
  • leads his sheep.
  • speaks well of his sheep.
  • pursues his sheep.
  • rests his sheep.
  • perseveres with his sheep.

More from David on leadership here.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 8 January 2011 at 21:01

Posted in Pastoral theology

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Feeding the sheep or amusing the goats

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Strong words, often attributed to Charles Spurgeon (but see comment below, which suggests that they may be a version of a piece by Archibald Brown):

An evil resides in the professed camp of the Lord so gross in its impudence that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate evil for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” That is clear enough. So it would have been if He has added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Then again, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.” Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? “Ye are the salt,” not sugar candy-something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead.” He was in awful earnestness!

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His mission, He would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear Him say, “Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel amusement. Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, “Lord grant Thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They “turned the world upside down.” That is the difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to affect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy-laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 8 May 2010 at 22:02

Carrying forth God in Christ

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Hurrah and huzzah!  As hoped, on Friday night we managed to track down a group of the young people with whom we have had contact before.  My friend A was spot on.  One of the fellows in the church phoned to offer his services and we headed out at just after 9pm.  We arrived at the designated spot just in time to see the gang we were after being ushered away from the local off-licence with some vigour on the part of the police and much stupidity on the part of at least one member of the group.  We pulled up quickly, and with a prayer for safety for them and us, leapt out in pursuit.  We were temporarily waylaid by a homeless fellow who asked for some money.  It was an apostolic moment: I was utterly without wonga.  Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: a brief explanation of Christ’s goodness, a promise to come back and speak to him (and to find some way of giving him some food), and a tract with an earnest invitation to come to church on Sunday where he would be fed as much as he wished, and to hear the good news proclaimed.  His name was John.

We then headed off after the lads.  By the time we had finished speaking with John, both the police and they had disappeared.  We wandered down a couple of blind alleys (almost literally) before we tracked a few of them down.  It was like being back at university: the marijuana smoke hung heavy in the air, even outside.  One young man was clearly out of it, probably drunk as well, and was immediately abusive and threatening.  It was the first time I thought that I might get lumped in the course of the night.  We persevered, and soon others were arriving, including A and D from last Wednesday.  The mouthy one eventually backed down, and we had an opportunity to speak of Jesus for a good hour or so with various ones.  There were two main chunks of chat: in the first, one appreciative young man spoke of the emptiness and pointlessness of his life, accepting that what we offered was attractive, compelling and coherent, but it was a big thing and he wasn’t sure he was going to bite.  Another couple of lads were listening intently, and chipping in now and again.  Then, later on, several young women joined us.  Unusually, on this occasion they were more hostile than the men, and assailed us quite aggressively with questions and arguments, not being entirely willing to hear the answers.  The chat broke up when the most earnest of the lads from earlier began having would-be-comedy fake sex in a nearby bush with one of the girls.  They were clearly losing interest.  In speaking with them, whether interested, appreciative, or aggressive, it is no longer possible to compartmentalise them mentally: they become people, men and women with immortal souls on their way to hell unless they are turned into the path to heaven.  We distributed several tracts and CDs with sermons, and handed out about eight or ten gospels (including to the young drunkard who wandered back towards the end to apologise for his crudity and anger earlier: would that not be a trophy to grace if he were brought in?).  We look for fruit from out labours.

I spent Saturday in preparation for the Lord’s day.  My fellow-pastor was away preaching in Milan over the weekend.  It is the anniversary of the church’s constitution, and they are going through a rough patch.  He therefore preached to them on suffering, and the reports are that it was timely and profitable, and that – despite his sickness from last week – the Lord upheld him through all the preaching, and assisted both him and Pastor Andrea Ferrari in the translating.

john-bunyan-1In the Sunday School hour, with the year drawing to a close, rather than take up for one Lord’s day the material on godly family life, I headed in a similar direction to my father in recent weeks (he has been working on Reformation history).  I was not quite as focused, going down a more biographical-historical-literary-introductory route.  My topic was John Bunyan and The Pilgrim’s Progress.  After giving a very brief overview of Bunyan’s life, I looked at the key qualities and themes of The Pilgrim’s Progress before giving some suggestions and hints with regard to profitable reading.  The material – less the asides and tangents – is here, here and here on this blog.

shining throughIn the morning worship, I preached from Nahum 1.2-3.  Man in his wisdom does not know God: he twists and misrepresents him in various ways and for various reasons.  Christians, too, can be tempted to water God down, smooth off his rough edges, and seek to explain and defend what God has simply chosen to reveal.  Not so Nahum: he has A right view of God. He puts his oracle against Nineveh in the context of God’s character, weaving together threads of colours that fallen reason would declare clashing, but which – in his inspired hands – become a dazzling and harmonious tapestry.

He speaks of the holiness of God.  God is jealous for the glory of his name and the good of his people.  He cannot bear for either one to be assaulted.  His fiery zeal for his own glory works itself out in a righteous indignation against all sin and transgression, a pure and perfect anger directed against wickedness.

He speaks of the mercy of God: he is “slow to anger.”  God is slow to frown, to threaten, to punish, and to execute punishment, but quick to smile, promise, forgive and reprieve.  If he were not, the world, every nation, every community, and every person would be consumed, destroyed and desolate, or sunk into hell.

He speaks of the power of God: he is “great in power.”  His power is demonstrated in the government of his anger: there is no sin in it, but it is “wrath reserved” – controlled and contained.  But we must not forget might when we remember mercy, for if we abuse the latter we will feel the former.  The Lord can accomplish all his purposes with regard both to his friends and his enemies, his promises and threatenings, blessing and curse.

Finally, he speaks of the justice of God: “he will not at all acquit.”  God’s justice is inflexible, and he never treats sin as innocence.  He responds to all unrighteousness with perfect justice.  Down through history, this reality is demonstrated, but nowhere more fearfully than in hell, nor so awesomely as at Calvary.  The atonement at Calvary tells us that the God who will not at all acquit nevertheless puts forth power in mercy to save sinners.

In part, this sermon arose from the grief and frustrations of engaging unconverted men and women, and their ignorance about the Lord God.  As Christians, we must let God be God, and declare him in all the fulness of his character, not being ashamed of all he is, nor willing to water down the perfections of any of his attributes.  Let saints rejoice, then, if the holy, merciful, powerful, and just God is our God: if God is for us, who can be against us?  Let sinners tremble, and flee at once to Jesus in order to be delivered from wrath: if God is against us, who can be for us?

wandering-sheep-in-dangerIn the evening service, I preached from Mark 6.34 on The good Shepherd’s compassion.  How do we respond to the multitudes milling around us as we make our way through the world?  Apathy bordering on disregard?  Alarm breeding fear?  Distaste mutating into disgust?  Horror leading to despair?  Bewilderment producing abandonment?  Dislike growing into loathing?  Pity sneering into contempt?  A sense of duty that twists into guilty action?

All such reactions are unlike that of Jesus.

We considered Jesus Christ’s reaction to the multitude.  He was “moved with compassion” – the sight of these men and women gripped his soul with a heartfelt sympathy.  His heart went out to them in sincere and genuine pity.  This is the sinless reaction of the God-man.  If we are to have the same reaction, we must build on the same foundation.  Therefore we must observe Jesus Christ’s perspective on the multitude.  He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.”  There was, to his eye, a physical resemblance, and to his heart, a spiritual reality.  They were lost and needy: wandering, exposed, hungry, and vulnerable.  This is God’s heart toward sinners.  How do we know?  Because it was Jesus’ heart toward sinners, and we have known ourselves the compassion of the Saviour if we are believers.

Finally, we must note Jesus Christ’s response to the multitude.  Mark focuses on instruction: he began to teach them many things.  Mark 6.12 and Luke 9.11 suggest that his message was what it was from the beginning: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1.15).  He shepherded them with gospel truth, dealing faithfully and tenderly with their souls, shepherding them as God had promised he would (Ex 34.11-16).  But there is also provision: he both healed their sicknesses (Lk 9.11) and fed their bodies (Mk 6.35 ff.).  The open heart that is good produces both an open mouth to speak good and an open hand to do good.

Is this our heart toward the milling multitude?  Do we have an increasingly Christlike sacrificial love for the lost and needy?  We must pray for and cultivate such a spirit as we come into contact with the wandering sheep of our day, pointing them always to the great and good Shepherd himself, Jesus the compassionate Christ.

We were thin on the ground during the day.  There were a number of people away, and a good number who were sick.  Our regular fellowship meal suffered an imbalance: the generous sick sent in their contributions, and the happy healthy were overwhelmed with a feast of good things.  After the evening service the normal refreshments became an exercise in consuming leftovers, and we were able to send away a good bit of food with young families and some of the more needy members of the congregation.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 15 December 2008 at 09:03

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