The old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. This idea that others’ viewpoints and comments can’t hurt us unless we let them is a dubious sentiment of a bygone era. Words can coerce, manipulate, and break our spirits....
God of redemption, whose liberating Spirit resides in the Son, remind us of our divine inheritance with you, so that we may know your infinite grace, wisdom, truth, and mercy. Amen.
The Bible uses metaphors meaningful in their time, and the image of a shepherd and sheep evokes protection, care, and safety. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God declares that all the scattered sheep will be joined together again. The weak and oppressed will receive special protection and justice from God. The psalmist says that the Israelites are the sheep of God’s pasture. In the Gospel reading, Jesus describes the final judgment as separating the sheep (those who are his) from the goats (those who are not). The distinction is made in part based on how they treated the weakest among them. Although the epistle does not use the imagery of sheep, it describes the promises of a glorious inheritance reserved for those in God’s flock.
Read Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24. What does it mean for you that God seeks you as an individual and as part of your faith community?Read Psalm 100. In times of trial or pain, how do you gather with others to praise God?Read Ephesians 1:15-23. How do you express gratitude to God and for your faith community?Read Matthew 25:31-46. How do you sit with unresolved questions of faith? How does asking questions of the Bible strengthen your faith or your comfort in not having answers to your questions?
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