St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

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Readings and Reflections for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Psalm 23

Ephesians 2:11-22

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Dear Friends,

The prophet Jeremiah condemns the leaders of Israel who have failed to act as proper shepherds to the people.  The Lord declares that He personally will gather his scattered and mistreated flock and raise up shepherds who will genuinely care for them.

In Mark’s Gospel Jesus welcomes his disciples as they return from their first mission. They have been sent out as shepherds to proclaim the good news that God has come near to gather and save them.  But there is no time to rest, because crowds of people who seek the shepherding of Jesus keep coming to them, hungry for the help and compassion of God.

Paul declares to the Church in Ephesus what we have seen demonstrated in Mark’s Gospel.  Non-Jews and Jews alike have “access in one Spirit to the Father.”  There are no strangers in Christ, but all are gathered and into one flock.

Comment:  When people today speak of “inclusion” – this is what they might best reference.  The compassion of God knows no human boundaries, and seeks to gather the entire human family as one people in the name of Christ. Harsh words of exclusion are found in the scriptures also, spoken by the prophets or by Christ, and seem reserved for those who scatter and divide people, neglecting the great shepherding project of the Lord.  In a world that seems to work hard to polarize and divide us into separate “flocks” I must watch my heart carefully for thoughts, words and deeds that would tempt me to disown people who Christ desires to gather and bless.  May I remember Jesus has offered his life, going to the cross, to gather and reconcile all people to God and one another.  How can I help this to happen?

David S. Robinson, Rector
Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church
Maple Glen, PA 19002