As we journey together through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written personal meditations. Each will be accompanied by a corresponding scripture reading, and be linked to that passage in the Holy Bible. If you would like to join us on Columbia’s Lenten journey, submit your personal meditation by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey, day by day, to its glorious culmination on Easter Sunday.
Today’s scripture reading is from the Gospel of John 10: 19-42.
Division. Frustration. Misunderstanding. Anger. These words rattle in my ears as I read this passage. The crowd’s reaction to Jesus beautiful claim to be the good shepherd makes me uncomfortable because I can identify with it so clearly. I want to be one of the sheep on this story, but I frequently am just one of the crowd.
The crowd wants a plain answer from Jesus when He is intent on speaking about something more complicated. They want a small God to agree with them rather than an infinite God to transform them. Jesus gave His followers so many broad, poetic answers to their questions, answering in parables rather than statistics. This is one thing I love about Jesus. And the church, at its best, reminds us that the love of God wins out over the small things that divide us. This is one thing I love about Trinity Cathedral. I love that Episcopalians are allowed to disagree and still kneel at the same altar; it reminds me what is important.
It seems to be a hallmark of our modern times, in national life and institutional religion, to drive the wedge deeper into our divisions and then fight to be on the right side of the dividing line Although we want to be the sheep Jesus calls by name and we want to know His voice, at times we are more like the crowd of critics who are determined to find fault, seeking the demon in others, eager to cast our stones. Some churches can become so preoccupied with deciding who’s in and who’s out that they diminish themselves to those searching souls who are hungry for true religion.
Jesus’ answers may frustrate the Philistine in me who wants something simple and clear, but they encourage me to rise to my best self, to listen to His voice, to hear a truth that is beyond my understanding. And when we bend our knees in prayer, lift our voices in song, I hear the voice of the shepherd who knows me by name, and I follow Him.
Canon Organist and Choirmaster
Columbia, South Carolina
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If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon’s Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.