The Lectionary readings for Sunday include Acts 4:5-12 and John 10:11-18.
The Gospel reading is a very familiar story. How often we have heard Jesus referred to as the "Good Shepherd." It is a name he uses for himself here, saying that he lays down his life for his sheep, for us. What amazing love is this!
Take some time to read Jesus' words using the practice of lectio divina. In this ancient spiritual practice, the idea is to allow the words to become a part of your heart and soul. In order to allow the Holy Spirit to speak, read the text slowly through the first time. Note what speaks to you in a special way. Then, read the text a second time and ask yourself: Is there something to which I need to pay more attention? Finally, read it once more. Is there some area in your life to which God seems to be speaking directly? If so, note this and offer whatever it is up to the Good Shepherd.
After allowing time and space to receive God's word for you, consider the following questions as you prepare for worship on Sunday:
- Herein, how many times does Jesus use some form of the phrase "lay down his/my life"?
- What might be the significance of the repeated use of the phrase?
- What do you imagine the life of a shepherd to be like?
- In this story, who are the hired hands?
- What role does the wolf play?
- Who are the "other sheep" of whom Jesus speaks?