Highworth United Reformed Church

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A change of direction 

By the Revd Robert Jordan M.A.
23rd November 2014

Bible Reading:  Ezekiel 33:11-22

Today is the last Sunday of the church calendar because next Sunday being the first in Advent we begin a new year...a new walk following the moments of our faith development.   But all beginning indicates that there is something that closes, and this is the sense of this Sunday.   The invitation is set out here for us, the link between what God chooses to do for the people and what will come as an expression of God's will.   This is why I chose a reading from the Old Testament, in the sense that what we read here will be made even more clear for us in what is to come.   As God takes to task the shepherds that have not done their job and because of this God will do what has to be done, to Jesus of whom soon we will celebrate the birth, who becomes "the good shepherd" (John 10).

This is a wonderfully caring passage showing us God at one of the most tender moments.   God is upset for the people, they have been abandoned by those who should be caring for them. so God makes it clear to all that God DOES care.    "I myself will search for my sheep...I will rescue them.". And goes on in detail to explain what this means;  and this still resonates to the world today - imagine what this means to the people in the world who feel nobody really cares.   And without going too far - what does this passage mean to you?   Because it does involve us as well.

Does God really mean what is said here?   Does this, in any way, set out what God wants for the people of then and of today, or is it simply a nice speech?   You see, how we respond to this will make the whole difference.   I am convinced that God is really serious here - God means what is said, and also says what God means.   The people - the sheep - are of absolute importance to God.   "I will feed them, they shall lie down in good grazing land, they shall feed on rich pasture.   I will bind the injured, strengthen the weak, bring back the strayed."

All are cared for...and it also points out that there are those who exclude themselves from this, those who abuse the sheep, those who tread on the pastures, those who foul the clear water...those who abuse the abundance that God provides, those who turn what is for all into a mess.   And don't we know many who suffer this mess?!   And if God cares we too are to care.   That is why this passage is a wonderful change of direction in the world still today.   And we can be part of it.

This passage is so important to hear, to proclaim today...this is what our calling is - to let the world know that God cares, and God is out there among those who are going through a hard time.   And when we celebrate communion today we are saying this as well - as when Jesus distributed to the crowd the little bread there was, and all were fed in abundance.   It's the same reality.   And just as we are about to enter Advent, it is good to be reminded that the birth we are soon to celebrate is the birth of the Good Shepherd who will give his life for his flock - just as God here, goes out to meet those having a hard time.   This is the God we believe in and the God we proclaim.   It is a great relationship to be in, don't you think?