St. John.jpg

Inside Out, Upside Down

John 10:1-10

The Rev. Jon Roberts

3 July

2011

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

1“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. 9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The Lost Sheep & The Good Shepherd stained glass window in The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Venice, FL

Show me your ways O Lord; Teach me your paths
Guide me in your truth and teach me;
For you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you, all the day long.[1]

These are true words, especially when sometimes we feel inside out and upside down.

Last week, children gathered for Vacation Bible School. They sang and they danced; they shared their lives with us. They were like the sheep that passed through the gate. They made new friends. They learned about gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, grace and faithfulness through a cast of characters who met on Main Street. There was Chef Pierre Monfrere' who ran the Brown Bag Bistro. There was Heidi Claire, super-sleuth extraordinaire, and there was Justin Time, the bus driver. No matter how things seem God always cooks something special. No matter how things seem God always has the answers. No matter how things seem God always stays the course. It all happened right here on Main Street.

They took part in an important mission to help people in the States impacted recently by floods and tornados. They brought in their loose change, along with our volunteers to raise two hundred and thirty dollars.[2] They heard people in the field who are missionaries far and away. One led a Vacation Bible School in the Dominican Republic stating the children there often did not have food. They didn't even know how to work a pair of scissors. We learned from that person we should be grateful. They returned and told us about how they showed compassion to people who are sick or dying by playing her harp.

Another missionary talked about how he and a fellow firefighter had to learn forgiveness after an accident occurred. Another missionary talked about the close connection between a homeless man and a volunteer at the Bethesda House; where grace abounded where others ventured not. Finally, they heard how important it was to attend church from another missionary who was called to be a faithful priest. How ironic...all of this occurred at the intersection, right here under the cross.

The sight of the cross could not be forgotten in their eyes. The crafts, the games, the parables told and even the snacks shared, all pointed back to the gift of the cross. Reminders of things we are grateful, were written by their hand on a post-it note. Reminders of times they were compassionate, were written on a band-aid. Stones, they wore in their shoes for a day, reminded them to not hold a grudge. Ultimately, their life, a precious treasure, would be the final reminder, and lead them to the form of a bow, placed here, on the cross.

This cross summarizes what happened upside down and inside out.

Main Street exists in their hearts and minds and souls. This was a big step for them. No matter how much they get scared. No matter how often their lives are turned inside out and upside down they learned something very valuable. They learned to listen to the voice of God. They learned to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.[3] Jesus showed them his ways; He taught them his paths.

He guided them in the way of truth and taught them that He is their God and their Savior; He will be their only hope, all day long, especially when they get turned inside out and upside down.

[1] Ps 25:4-5 (NIV)
[2] All monies were sent to the Episcopal Relief & Development Fund (ERD).
[3] John 10:1-10

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