4th Sunday of Easter, April 22, 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Farmer Hoggett raised sheep. Along with the sheep he had two Border Collies, Rex and Fly that did the herding for him. In addition, he had an odd assortment of chickens, ducks, a cow and a goat.
One day, while at the fair, he stopped at a tent selling chances for guessing the weight of the runt piglet in a crate. He really wasnâ€™t a pig man, but if he won he could fatten it up for ham.
Besides that, the money for the guess went to a good cause. So, he picked up the piglet and made a guess.
His guess won the pig, so he took it home. The piglet, Babe, made friends with Fly, the dog, and with Ma, the old sheep, and with the other animals. Babe, though, was no ordinary pig. Babe was a smart pig. He could open and close the gate to the farm. One day he alerted Farmer Hoggett that thieves were in the upper meadow stealing his sheep, and then Farmer Hoggett began looking differently at the little pig. The Farmer marveled at the pig trying to imitate the sheepdog, and when Rex isnâ€™t able to compete in the sheepdog trials, the farmer trains and registers Babe.
This is the premise of the movie, Babe. Throughout the movie, Babe gives of himself to aid others. He helps the duck, Ferdinand, and he goes to the aid of the sheep when they are being stolen. He attacks a pack of wild dogs when they threaten the sheep and kill one. When Flyâ€™s puppies are sold, Babe comforts Fly in her loneliness. He helps Farmer Hoggett in many ways, including winning the sheepdog trials, despite people thinking the farmer is nuts. Throughout Babe sets his life aside for others, to help others.
In our Gospel for today, we have a part of Johnâ€™s witness about the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his flock, for the sheep. And I believe that there are a few different ways we can look at this â€œlaying downâ€ of his life. First, we know that this is foreshadowing Jesusâ€™ death and resurrection.
It foreshadows Jesus setting down his life at the cross and taking it up again at the resurrection. Jesus, the one willing to die for others, and the one willing to be raised again so that others might have eternal life. This is not an unusual theme to us. We know this one so well.
But I also think that another theme here is that Jesus is setting aside his divinity, his God-ness, to come to us in human form. He sacrificed his equality with God to be with us in a form that we could understand and be comfortable with. He set aside everything that was his, in order to be with us and to be for us a savior.
If I asked you about people sacrificing for others, to name people who lay down their lives for others, I probably would hear â€œMilitary personnel,â€ or â€œPolice,â€ or â€œFire Fighters,â€ but we all make sacrifices of some kind that benefit others. Sometimes, maybe not life-threatening sacrifices, but still making sacrifices in the name of Jesus.
Choir â€“ sacrifices their time and their voices to enhance our worship.
Parish Nurse â€“ sacrifices her time in visiting the members, but also taking folks to appointments and things.
Altar Guild and its workers keeping the sanctuary fit and everything decorated in honor to God.
Lector scheduler who sees that multiple voices are heard reading scripture lessons for the services. The lectors themselves. Greeter scheduler and Greeters,
Usher scheduler and ushers, Communion Preparer Scheduler, and preparers and assistants, and everyone else.
We donâ€™t always make conscious sacrifices, but sometimes we do when we donate blood, give to the Salvation Army or another agency, or when volunteering in other ways.
We sacrifice ourselves for others. We lay aside, lay down our stuff to be a part of their stuff. To truly walk in someoneâ€™s shoes. To walk alongside someone in their life in their joys and in their sorrows. To attempt to not only understand what their life is like but to understand their feelings and emotions and what they are dealing with. To feel what they may feel, or to at least know how you would feel in their place.
We are to be little shepherds, who follow in the way of Jesus, the Great and Good Shepherd. May we always follow in his path. Amen. Before we pray, I would like to fulfill a request, by saying Jesus says, Thatâ€™ll do pig.
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do Godâ€™s will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in Godâ€™s sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.