Readings for the Christmas Season
The fourth day of Christmas
“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:1-10
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The readings for this season all deserve comment, though they also deserve to left alone. The promises of the prophets, the words of Jesus, need to linger in the air. We are busy to run off to other things – shopping, football, travel, and chores that have been put aside in the run up to Christmas. But there is something about these days of the Christmas season that should be like sitting down after a party and relishing the goodness of the event rather than rushing to clean up. The Christ is born. The divine life dwells among us. In his hands, in his words, in his grace, in his sacrifice, we see the heart and passion of the eternal, creative, and life-giving truth at the heart of all things. Here is the gate through which we go out to good pasture. Here is the good shepherd leading us to true life. Here is the voice we recognize as true and trustworthy. In a world of thieves and bandits plundering the sheep, here is the one who protects and saves. We are not scattered and abandoned like sheep without a shepherd. We are not alone in the terrors of the world. We are guided and beloved. The Christ is here. In that joy we should linger. In that peace we should live.