THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER AD 2020
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
1 Peter 2:19-25
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."  This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
From the outside it looks like Covid 19 has slowed us all down. We’re all tucked away in our homes. Cars are parked in the driveway. But slowed down? For some, perhaps, but no, not for all. Many of us are wearing even more hats now, than we did in those good old pre-pandemic days.
Not only are parents still parents and in many cases still workers (desperately trying to get their work done with a house full of people, fitting in Zoom meetings and conference calls between requests for snacks and making kids kiss and make up), now, they are also teachers and tech support. Yes, they’ve had to master those all important questions, “Is it plugged in?” and “Have you tried turning it off and on?”
Slowed down? For some, perhaps, even too slow, perhaps, but for many, no. If moms and dads thought that they were multitasking before Covid 19, that was a walk in the park compared to Covid-tasking. And if they felt that they were dropping the ball before, as they tried to juggle all their tasks with umpteen hats on their head, those feelings, if anything, have only grown greater, as they’ve had more hats added and the balls all just seem to be rolling away on the ground.
Multitasking? That was a cake walk compared to Covid-tasking and many are feeling it. Because as it turns out “multitasking” according to the great “they” of popular opinion is not a very good way to work. Because in fact, we can’t actually be all things to all people all at the same time. That’s a God thing as it turns out, which is maybe why it’s such an easy idea for us to buy into, given the lie that we believed in Eden so long ago - that personal divinity was within our grasp - just hanging there on a tree ready to be picked.
There’s something to think about here, beloved, in these Covid days, when so many of you go about your day to day life trying to be everything to everyone and feeling crummy about not measuring up all the time. As there is something to think about for those of you who feel useless because they have nothing to do. Three years ago God allowed me to be put flat on my back with every role that I had stripped away from me to help me to repent of trying to be all things to all people all the time. He mercifully gave me some time, where it was just good enough for me to be His Child and rest in Christ. He said to me enough of the multitasking. “Uni-tasking” is the way for you. Resting in Jesus is all that I ask of you.
Resting in Jesus, yes, that’ s enough for me and for you too, beloved. Doing it all is someone else’s job. The Lord Jesus alone can be all things to all people all the time. It’s the only way that what He says today makes sense - as He tells us that He is both the door to the sheep fold, as well as the shepherd at the same time. He is telling us about some of the multitasking that He does because He is very God of very God. He doesn’t need to be one or the other, because He, unlike us, can be both at the same time.
So what is He telling us that He is to us then? To understand Him we need to think about what both the door and the shepherd would mean to the sheep. The door of the sheepfold would mean many things to sheep. The door would be the way to shelter and safety at night. The door would be the way to the place where they could lie down and sleep in peace, without anything to fear or be anxious about. In the early morning the door would bring them their shepherd and be the way out to the green pastures and the still waters, where they could eat and drink and be satisfied. The door to the sheepfold would mean life for the sheep. Warmth, shelter and peace at night and food and water in the day.
The shepherd was the one who cared for the sheep. He is the one who would see them safely to the door of the fold at night and lead them out of it in the early morning to green pastures and still waters. The door of the fold meant abundant life and safety for the sheep. The shepherd is the one who took care of them so that that abundant life could be theirs. The sheep knew that the shepherd would see them safely to the sheepfold door at night and lead them out of it to graze and drink during the day - which is why they listened to his voice and followed him. They knew that he would take care of them.
What the Lord wants each of us to know, beloved, is that He is both these things for us. He is the door that leads into the peace and shelter of the Father’s house, as well as the door that leads to its green pastures and still waters. He and He alone can get us there. He is the only door into the fold, where all those good things wait for us. But not only that, at the same time He is our good shepherd as well, the one who calls and leads us to that door and through it.
He is in our lives tending and leading us with His Spirit to Himself, so that through Him we might receive all the blessings of life with the Father in His house. Through His Life death and resurrection the Lord Jesus became the door for the sheep. But in His Church, where He is with His flock always even unto the end of the age, He continues to shepherd His sheep through men like me, to tend them, to care for them and to lead them to the sheepfold door … to lead them to Himself, that they might have life and have it abundantly in Him.
And so this morning He as your Good Shepherd calls out through my voice to each of you by name to lead you to Himself God’s open door for you to the sheepfold of His kingdom. “Come to me,” He says, “and pass through me into the peace and rest and life that I have prepared for you” “I have done it all for you. I am everything for you. Come to me and I will share it all with you, that you may be saved and go in and out and find pasture.”
Yes, beloved, it’s time to repent of the idea that we can be more than what God has made us to be. It’s time to leave all our multitasking thoughts and even more so our covid-tasking ones behind and all the guilt that goes along with not being able to be all things to all people all the time. ‘Uni-tasking’ is the way for you, beloved, it’s time for us all to rest in Christ and Christ alone, because He has done and is doing all the “multi-tasking” for us.
“Be still,” the Lord Jesus says in this moment, “and know that I, not you, am God. I have not created you to be all things to all people, that is what I am, rest in me and let me be, in and through you, what I am. ” Amen.