Thursday Reflection — April 14, 2016                                                      John 10:22-30

1540px-StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass GoodShepherd Portrait

At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."

They are still missing.

We have a stemmed glass in the narthex of St. Paul’s, containing names on small slips of paper.  Beautiful names, like Asabe 

and Godiya 

and Liyatu 

and Hauwa 

and Malam 

and Yana…  

Familiar names, like Debora 

and Tabitha 

and Rebeca 

and Aisha 

and Christy 

and Ruth

and Mary…  


and Rahila 

and Yanke 

and Talata

and Muwa

and Asabe…  

and dozens of heart breaking slips listing simply, “Name Unknown.”

We have had these names in our church building for two years now.  You are invited to take several of the slips of names and to pray for these individuals.

They are the names of the 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram from secondary school Chibok in northern Nigeria on April 14, 2014.  An occasional isolated report comes suggesting a few were able to escape, and now there are reports that these girls are being used as suicide bombers.  It is an on-going witness to the power of hatred in the world.

Boko Haram is a militant Islamist group founded in hatred.  The commonly accepted translation of the name, a phrase in the indigenous lingua franca Hausa, is: “Western education is forbidden.”  Its noted leaders espouse ideas that reject basic concepts of modern science, fail to recognize any value of diversity, and promote extremist ideas that lead to outrageous, violent behavior.

And still the girls are missing.  

Clearly, the world needs a shepherd.  A good shepherd.  Some one to set us straight.  Jesus came to do that.

And he met challenges among people in his own time who misunderstood what he was trying to do, people who wanted him to tell them about himself in ways they expected.   “I have told you and you do not believe.”  Even then the message was not received by all.  God came to be with us and much of humanity missed it.  

And still God came, promising to be with us in ways of love and grace and power.

How do we hold that faith in the face of real life experience now?  “No one will snatch them out of my hand.”  What does that mean to Hauwa and Malam and Yana and Debora and Tabitha and Rebeca and Aisha and Yanke and Talata and all the others who are still not home today?  What does that mean for those who abducted them and those who allow it?  What does that mean for you and for me?

How do you find God amidst the many changes and chances of life each day?

In what ways have you experienced the nurturing, guiding, protecting presence of God?

How are your prayers shaped by your reading of scripture?  (If you need a bible so you can do some daily reading of scripture, we have some here at church for you!)

Let’s talk.