St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Thursday, April 27, 2023
Good Shepherd Sunday April 30, 2023
The entire portion of John’s gospel that speaks of Jesus as the “good shepherd” is not read this Sunday. Only John 10:5-10 is. Next year on the 4th Sunday of Easter in year B, the rest of it appears: John 10:11-18.
The theological and poetic image of God as the shepherd of Israel was already firmly grounded in Jewish thought. Psalm 23, which we will read on Sunday, echoes that, but it is far from the only instance.
Of all the mental pictures of Jesus that might have emerged as prominent in the first few centuries, you might be surprised to note that this was the dominant one. Not Jesus the cross. Not Jesus the healer. Not even Jesus the rabbi, the teacher. No, it was Jesus the good shepherd that captured hearts.It is a powerful image: The good shepherd who is also the gatekeeper, and even the lamb who was offered (as in the Exodus.) He is all of it. Early Christians loved the conflation of image on top of image.The following images come from the Roman catacombs. But there are around 120 such images in the early catacombs. Some are too faded to be easily reproduced.
This comes from the wall of St Callisto’s catacomb, and was painted in the very early 3rd century
This is from Priscilla’s catacomb which is also a better preserved early 3rd century painting.
This one is from Domatilla’s catacomb. It is interesting because it not only shows Jesus as the shepherd of his flock, but in the background two predators, perhaps lions, from whom he is shielding the sheep. This is from slightly later than the other two paintings, mid 4th century.
News and Notes
I visited Bettyann Reed on Wednesday this week. She is at Select Specialty Hospital on Primrose in Springfield if you are there and would like to stop by. Bettyann is very weak and frail, and is not eating much. She is also discouraged at her slow progress and is doing a lot of sleeping. She has had a whole lot of complex surgery, and although that was successful she is now weary of it all and wondering if she can make it though. She sends her love and asks for your continued prayer.
THIS Sunday, April 30
Ruth Lewis will preach for the last time at St Alban’s. You know her as a gifted preacher, a wise counselor and delightful conversationalist. She is also our friend. She and Larry are moving to St Louis in May to be near their family. We will miss her, but are so grateful for the time she and Larry have spent with us.
ALSO THIS Sunday, April 30There will be a bishop’s committee after church on next Sunday. Everyone is invited to come, listen and comment. Bishop’s Warden, Paula Shepard will lead the meeting.
NEXT Sunday, May 7, 2023
We will have a festive Eastertide potluck dinner to honor and celebrate The Rev. Larry and Ruth Lewis before they leave for St Louis on the 8th. Please plan to be here for this celebration. Please bring whatever you’d like to share – but remember that Ruth needs gluten-free options!