In John's Gospel selection today we have Jesus identifying himself as The Good Shepherd and saying that he is the gateway to entry into the pasture of the kingdom. He then says: I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again.
We know Jesus is talking about the expanding nature of the Christian community as well as his coming death and resurrection. Those initial individuals who may have heard these words did not understand this as we do. How can we take these words of Jesus, the power to lay down and the power to take up again, and apply them to our lives and the world around us?
We all re-create ourselves as we progress through life. We start a job, live in a particular place, and can become identified in a certain way. If we lose that job, change jobs, move to a different place, we are in the process of re-creating ourselves. That same principle can apply to our beliefs, our faith, how we interact in this world. When we lose something or someone that is precious to us, a sense of loss can overwhelm us. We cannot allow that place of loss be how we define ourselves, forever. Certainly it is a piece of who we are, but it doesn't have to define who we are to become.
Like Jesus says today about his own power, his own ability to lay down his life and take it back up again, so we too have a similar ability. We have the power to re-create ourselves, laying to rest those things that do not assist us in making entry through that gateway Jesus defines, into the pasture of the kingdom. We have the power to re-invent ourselves, re-define ourselves, re-create ourselves. What better time then during Lent for us to reshape who and what we, beginning anew the building of this kingdom, knowing that Jesus has led the way and that he continues to lead us, guide us and is with us on this difficult stripping and re-creation.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Ordination Moment, 2007.