When I was preaching last Sunday at a church in Salford I led the congregation in looking at some of the images we use to describe God, particularly the Good Shepherd, using Psalm 23.
I wonder what it means for you that God is a good shepherd? Better than the hired hands who care only for themselves, the good shepherd cares for the missing sheep, and goes into full search and rescue mode if one is lost. The good shepherd is the one who leads their sheep to the green, lush grass, and to the still waters that refresh them, providing the footprints for them to follow through the dark and difficult places.
The psalm ends, God’s “goodness will lead me home.” If we were sheep (and Rachel means sheep so I am, in a way!) then our home would be the sheep pen. I wonder if that signifies a place of safety or entrapment for you?
Where do you feel most at home? Is it a specific house, your church, your SCM group, or just when you're with certain people? All of these can be places where we feel safe and at home.
When you think of home how often do you think of heaven? This month I want to think more about how we see heaven on earth, and how God’s reign can be evident in this life, too. There are so-called “thin places” in our world, where it feels like God is nearby. Often these are places with a rich history and a connection to the saints of long ago. I’ve spent time on both Iona and Lindisfarne and they have felt homely to me, like heaven on earth. Where have you most felt God's presence in your life?
Sometimes the evidence of God's presence on earth is not a place but a moment or an action. What can we do to help others connect to God more easily? How do we remove the earthly issues of poverty, injustice, and sin so that heaven can be more real now? So that all of us may feel at home with God in this place, or the place where we find ourselves.
I pray this month that we can find our home, led by the Good Shepherd, and together build a home that is safe for all.
I’m always looking for places where I can preach! If your church would like to invite me, or another speaker from SCM, please get in touch.