Following our worship, there will be a celebration in the Cathedral Garden. The Excelsior Band will join us, and there will be fried oysters, along with a fried chicken lunch and libations. The children will enjoy a jumping house. Please plan to stay.
In the cycle of the Church year, this Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also known as “Good Shepherd” Sunday. Our collect reminds us that “Jesus is the good shepherd of [God’s] people” and asks that we “when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name” and follow where he leads.
The scripture readings for the day emphasize the ways we hear and follow him in our life together. The first lesson, from early in Acts, gives us a picture of the earliest life of the Church. We see those first followers of the way of Jesus living out the very same promises we make in our Baptismal Covenant-devoting themselves “to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” From this comes a life filled with awe and wonder and signs; it is a life shared in common, meeting the needs of others with “glad and generous hearts.” We hear also that they “spent much time together in the temple” strengthening themselves in following Jesus’ way.
Both the psalm and the second reading, from 1 Peter, remind us that we are the sheep of the good shepherd. We will sing the refrain “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want” as the choir chants the 23rd Psalm. God’s good provision for us, in all the moments of our lives, is the whole subject of this beloved psalm. On this Sunday, in particular, we can join the psalmist is saying, “my cup is running over.” Peter, in his letter, tells his readers, “you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” This phrase, long part of the confession in our tradition,” reminds us that we are all straying sheep who follow our own ways and who need to return to following our shepherd for life and wellbeing.
The gospel this Sunday from John is Jesus’ statement to his followers establishing himself, not only as the shepherd who calls his sheep by name and leads them out but also as “the gate.” He says, “whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” He is our safety and the source of provision for all of our true needs-and more, as he promises, “I came that [my sheep] may have life, and have it abundantly.”
This Sunday will be a celebration of the abundant life that we have found in following Jesus, our good shepherd. I hope that every member of the Cathedral Family can be present.