The Gate

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

I Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10

Open for your people the gates of justice

most holy and righteous one!

This is God’s gate

and the upright shall enter in.

Then shall we all praise your glorious name

now and forever.  Amen.

We have as God’s people

lost our sense of holiness.

We do not slowly make our way

to the gates of the Temple

singing songs of ascent

and glorifying God’s unknown name.

We do not know the trials

of exile

nor of surrendering our lives

in holy poverty.

Yet this is what we read in our lessons

for this day

especially to the ones to whom the

Epistle of Peter was directed.

A letter written to Christians living in exile,

a letter encouraging its readers

focusing on Christ’s example.

A letter focused on living in utter dependance

on God.

As Jesus did.

Knowing himself to be God’s beloved

at his baptism

he now proclaims to followers and

disbelievers

that he is not only shepherd

but gate.

He is the one who swings open

swinging out to invite in.

He is the one this Gospel knows

to be of divine origin

hence opening up to all God’s holiness

and God’s blessed invitation

to enter into the fold.

There will always be strangers

and thieves and bandits

who will try to steal away those

following in his example.

Jesus’ sole purpose is to keep in safety

all who have entered into his sheepfold.

And when we are of that fold

we have the abundant life

which has been promised.

It is perilous to follow the wrong shepherd,

the ones who claim to know the way

to God;

the voice of the stranger who promises

a way into her fold for the price of a DVD.

The early Christians learned that they had to listen

to the voice of the Good Shepherd

when the voices of Romes’ caesars

called to them to disavow their love of Jesus.

They learned what I Peter meant

by suffering as a higher calling.

In our binary world we think there are

just two choices: 0 and 1.

But in Christ there are always more

choices

pointing to his option of the cross.

As much as we are Easter people

we must never stop being Good Friday people.

It is easy to follow a resurrected Lord,

but to follow and to exemplify a crucified Lord

is ever the challenge

and the calling.

The church of this day has exchanged

Christ Crucified

with Christ Pantocrator, the exalted ruler.

We have replaced the shepherds staff

with the gilded crozier assigned to

guide the wayward people of the world.

We have replaced the crown of thorns

with the triple tiara of Pontiff.

We have forgotten God’s holiness

that comes with arms outstretched,

with nails in wrists and feet.

And the Good Shepherd

is the Good Gate swinging wide

to remind us of who and why we follow

and why we live the way we do.

For Jesus is the gate through which

God and God’s abundant holiness

are fulling known,

the gate swinging outward

to invite everyone in.

To keep out the ones who are different

who believe differently

is to live a life and be a church

with spiritual exclusion.

Our Gospel has within it the wording

“…but they did not understand…”

‘They’ refers to the leaders of the synagogue

who had just turned out the man born blind,

the leaders who Jesus says

are blind themselves.

We are often blind to the ones who need

our openness the most,

the ones who Jesus protects from the

wolves of this world.

And we are to be the people

who invite in

not keep out.

God’s holiness is for everyone

inviting the entire world for safe keeping.  Amen.

The Gate