Being Known

by | Apr 22, 2018

John 10:11-18

The Good Shepherd

How do you get your news? Is it from the Newspaper? Or perhaps the Television? Or do you read the news online? Perhaps you read magazines and get a more indepth study of the news? Along with the traditional media, I tend to watch a number of Youtube news and commentary videos. These range on things from American politics to news about upcoming movies and television. Much like many websites which often have space for comments and discussion. These videos almost always end with a kind a patter of invitations: ‘follow us on twitter’, ‘click on the subscribe’,  and ‘This video is just the beginning of the discussion, leave your comments below I’d love to hear your opinion.’

This particularly feeds into the expectation of Millennials, as they are called, the children of the baby-boomers, This kind of immediate feedback, much like an expectation to be known to those who they work for is an aspect some Millenials demonstrate in their behavioural. I’d argue there are general trends like this which we see in society more generally, which come with greater access to methods of communication. In the workplace, it is always easier to work for somebody who we believe is on our wavelength, understands us, trusts us and who we know. Companies often put lots of effort into making sure anytime the senior management spent some time on the shop floor or in the office with the average joe is well documented and publicised. Aligning a businesses corporate goals with the goals of its employees shows a degree of understanding of the employees and has the potential to generate real productivity.

Of course we should always, rightly, expect to have some level of direct contact with those whom we elect. As we approach a local election in the next couple of weeks, this is particularly relevant. The out-of-touch politician is a cliche, but it is a volatile title when it comes to an election – as the conservative party found in the last national election. In a way, our politics suffer at the moment because none of the main parties have quite managed to catch or understand the general mood. When a party or an individual does, it can be a winning formula – though sometimes there just isn’t a general mood to get a hold of. My point is that we want those who represent us to at the very least understand us, to feel they’ve heard our concerns. But perhaps the next step is to ask the question of whether they understand those on the edges of our society, or those most in need of support and care. Failures of some politicians to understand the concerns of those living in our local tower blocks, or the impacts of the decisions which led to the fiasco around the treatment of the children of the Windrush generation.

In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds the Pharisees that he is the Good Shepherd. He knows us each by name, he knows us each personally.

When I’m telling children the story of the good shepherd using little sheep and shepherd, as each of the sheep is brought out of a bad they are given a little stroke, to indicate that to Jesus they are each known and cared for personally. This is the way we all long to be known. A kind of knowing that would inspire loyalty and trust. The kind of knowing which would command a dramatic election result.
It is a kind of being known which on one level we yearn for.

It is also a kind of knowing which is enormously challenging. A kind of knowledge of us which goes beyond the version of ourselves that we try to show others. This is a knowing of us which is very much worts and all. Jesus knows not only all the things we are proud of, but every one of our faults as well. God knows us when we are at our lowest moments, when we won’t let anybody else in. And it is in those moments that Jesus is there to comfort us. Not to take away all hurt and pain, but to bare that burden with us. To forgive us when we’ve made a mistake, and to help us make the situation better. It is at those moments that we realise what Jesus is talking about when he says he is willing to lay his life down for us. Because the ultimate friend, the ultimate expression of love, is the person who knows us, down to our every flaw, and still loves us so much, that there is nothing they wouldn’t do for us, nowhere they wouldn’t go to help us.

That is the Good Shepherd who is our Lord. The one that would seek us out at the moment we were most lost and most upset, and risking his life, would comfort us, and take us home to a place prepared for us. Our God is the one who would do anything that we might know how much we are loved. And that is what we must do –  to love with overflowing grace.

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

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