It’s the fourth Sunday of Easter. Good Shepherd Sunday. Our special guest musician this morning is Martha Kato, a young Asian jazz pianist. (http://marthakato.com/music). We begin, as we do we do every Sunday in this season, with our Alleluias. All our music today will be connected to the Good Shepherd theme and the 23rd Psalm, beginning with The King of Love My Shepherd Is/ When we do the psalm, we use the refrain that Bill Schimmel created for us that first Sunday after 9/11. (http://www.billschimmel.com/),The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Our gospel this morning is John 10: 11-18.
16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
I follow that with my own version of O Good Shepherd feed My Sheep. Although my favorite (an d definitive) version is by Jorma Kaukonen, I followed it back through Mike and Peggy Seeger’s banjo version to an old blues version by Jimmy Strothers, collected by Alan Lomax. It has even deeper roots than that, back to a Methodist preacher, John Adams Granade. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOWX2-l788A) Strothers called hos version Blood Stained Banders. When asked what that meant, he replied, Them Ku Kluxers of coruse.
And then, it was time to begin.
Before I start my reflection, let’s say together the 23rd Psalm. Old school, the King James way:
As our offertory, we sing Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us and for our closing hymn, The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want.
We make our circle. End the service. It has been a good day.