On Sunday we were welcomed by the pastoral imagery of Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Then in the reading from Gospel of John we were moved into the fold of faith by the promise that the voice of the one who laid down His life for us can not and never will be silenced. Even now the Good Shepherd seeks each and every one of us who has moved from the safe fold of faith.
The thing is, we do wander. Look again at the words Pastor Randy offered about the way we "wander", even in the hour when we are gathered (apparently) for an hour when worship is the highlight of our minds?
How often does our worship become only repetitive phrases with no meaning, how often does the saying of our Apostles' Creed become simply an exercise in paragraph recital, rather than the confessing of our faith, saying out loud what we believe about our life and our God? When we come to the Lord's Prayer in our service, do we often catch ourselves uttering sentences we have memorized since a child, and often find our minds drifting to some other matters of the day?
It is hard; it is often difficult to keep our Christianity in focus. And if we fall short of holding on to the great victory of Easter, if we sometimes let our minds go astray while in church practicing the faith, how often would we guess that our Christian center falls to the wayside during the rest of our week? It seems our Christian challenge will always draw us back to the basics, to remind ourselves to open our eyes a little wider, to focus our hearts a little stronger, to guide our thoughts a little sharper, so that we may see, be reminded, and be continually strengthened in our Christian walk. On the other side of the coin, it would be easy to become pessimistic as well, for we know that in our own mortality, our own sinfulness, that we simply are not very good at living up to that challenge.
It is so too easy to simply go through the motions of life, worship, and faith without reminding ourselves of the great promise of the Christian way. It is very easy to miss the great majestic art scenes of God. But that is where the Spirit can invade our lives; that is where God doesn't give up on us, but instead uses our ordinary experiences of life to draw us back toward our true center. It is the gift of the Spirit through Christ, which enables us to again encounter the risen Lord and its meaning for us.
FOR REFLECTION: Are you aware of sections of the worship service when you slip into "going through the motions?" When do you notice God invading your life? How does the voice of the Good Shepherd draw you to a faith fold where you are shaped, nourished and guided in ways that deepen or broaden your love for God and others?