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This week's sermon:

                      John 10:22-30  -  "A Shepherd To Lead Us"
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Numbers. Our lives are filled with numbers. Each year we file our income taxes. Now that's an exercise in numbers to end all numbers games. Pages upon pages of numbers: earned numbers, spent numbers, invested numbers, and saved numbers. When it is finally prepared, we send it off to the Internal Revenue Service with our Social Security number on it. And the IRS takes all those numbers and puts them into a computer, along with the numbers of thousands and thousands of other people. And to them, we become a number.


The government knows us by our tax number. The state knows us by our driver's license number. The bank knows us by our account number. And when we retire, we'll be remembered by our Social Security number. And it goes on and on. In fact, sometimes I wonder if anybody knows us at all without a number!


And that's why this morning's Gospel reading is so significant, because it tells us that God knows us. He knows us intimately, in fact, better than we know ourselves. And that's important to remember. In spite of the fact that the image of sheep and shepherd is foreign to our experience, the words of the Gospel this morning hearken for us a truth that our human hearts long to hear. The Old Testament writer put it even more clearly when he wrote, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Jesus says it this morning, "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me, and I give them eternal life."

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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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