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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mission

Dear friends, this is a crazy busy week, so I hope you won't mind reading something from the Archives. I think you'll find this "old" post still has something to say to us as we're working on our "mission."

Fold

I stumbled across a little lesson in Greek that’s given me a new thought I’d like to share with you. Come along as I try to tell you how what I discovered.

You’re likely familiar with the image of Jesus as the good shepherd. It comes from the tenth chapter of John’s gospel. Christians generally like that image of the gentle shepherd leading his sheep safely into the fold, knowing their names, cradling the little lambs in his arms. I remember pictures from my earliest days in Sunday school. And I guess I grew up with that image tucked in my mind somewhere of Jesus keeping me safe.

Then I read this Greek lesson. I go back to the chapter and there it is, clear as day. It says that Jesus leads the sheep out of the fold. Already I’m noticing something. The shepherd is not putting the sheep safely inside, but is leading them out into the world where there are wolves and bandits. Then my Greek teacher shares with me the word “ekballo” that in this chapter is translated as “to lead out.”

But everywhere else—and it’s there in the gospels a whole lot!—it is translated as “cast out, throw out, eject violently.” Jesus “casts out demons”—ekballo. He drives the money changers from the temple—ekballo. In John 9, the blind man has been kicked out of the synagogue—ekballo is the word that’s used.

Now here, in the story of the good shepherd, Jesus ekballos the sheep from the fold!

Is the message what we’ve always wanted it to be? Our Savior knows our names and wants to keep us safe from harm, here in the sanctuary of the church, the congregation, the beloved faith community? Or is it that Jesus, who cares for all his sheep is ready for us, his beloved, to get out there and help with his mission in the world. Admittedly there will be wolves and bandits, but Jesus knows us by name and goes before us. Enough of this lolly-gagging around the fold. It’s time for us to be tossed out on our little wooly behinds. It’s time to be ekballoed out where there is work to be done.

Some folks ask the question: what is this “mission” that you’re always talking about? I’m not sure what it is in your community, but I’m pretty sure it’s not inside the fold but out there beyond the security of the fold. It’s in the world outside. And you are being ekballoed out there for some good reason. Go figure it out.

Posted by Marion

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