My home congregation is Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. For as long as I can remember, their logo has included a silhouette of Jesus as shepherd, holding a long staff. They have a beautiful metal (iron?) sculpture of a shepherd carrying a sheep. Their columbarium, which I have yet to see in person, includes a life-sized statue of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
And yet, despite all those years surrounded by the image of our savior as a shepherd, I have few ideas on what to preach for Good Shepherd Sunday! For me, the shepherd has simply always been one of the primary images of God, accepted almost without question – in the same way, I suppose, that people over the years have accepted images of God as an old man with a beard, or as a king on a throne, or even as a descending dove. Isn’t it amazing how our art and iconography can shape our understanding of God?
This week’s RCL texts include two specifically focused on the image of God as shepherd. If you are preaching on one of these, please share your ideas below!
But perhaps you’re following Acts through this season of Easter. What does it mean this week to have the Gospel proclaimed by the lips of prisoners? Since the very beginning of our religion, preachers have been getting arrested simply for following Jesus. How does this relate to you experience of faith, either personally or as a congregation? How might it change your sense of urgency surrounding the message of Jesus, or your advocacy on behalf of prisoners?
I’m planning to use 1 John as the sermon text this week. The first two verses summarize the gist of Christianity to me – Jesus gave his life for us, so following his model, we are to give sacrificially to others. This is how we show God’s love to one another. Obviously, this is not an easy instruction to follow most of the time! But it is clearly stated here, and a good reminder to put our faith into action. Each individual and each congregation will show sacrificial love in a different way. What might it look like for your community?
As always, preachers, best wishes on your worship prep this week! Please share your ideas, questions, and relevant links below. Many blessings to you this Eastertide.
Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor in Madison, WI. She is passionate about justice issues, particularly pertaining to women. Her newest favorite hobby is reading the Star Wars Little Golden Books to her nephew (age 4) and niece (age 2.5).
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