From death to life
I am the gate
[Jesus said], ‘I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go 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.
‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away - and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.’
Picture sheep grazing on a hillside two thousand years ago. In the valley is a pen with its walls made from a horseshoe of rocks. It is evening, so the sheep have been led into the fold through its narrow entrance. The shepherd is lying across the entrance. He is asleep, but trained to wake at any moment should a sheep nudge his body to try to escape, or a wild animal or thief attempt to climb across him to find supper.
The shepherd is a real human gate. He is ‘laying down his life for the sheep’ in a literal sense. This is a marvellous picture of both the security and the freedom of those who put their trust in Christ. For those whom life has cramped and confined, he is the entrance to the liberty of the pastures - out of oppression into freedom. For those whom life has frightened and bruised, he is the entrance into the security of the fold - out of loneliness into protective love.
The religious fraud offers this for money and is useless when the crisis arises. Jesus offers this for love and stays with us no matter what it costs him.
When you lie in bed this evening, think back to these verses and the shepherd laying down his life as a guardian. Picture in your imagination those who need you as a shepherd.
' O Gate of my life, lead me out to find freedom. O Gate of my life, lead me in to find security. And watch over my going out and coming in until I meet you face to face. Amen.
Why not use this time to try some bible reading?
There are lots of brilliant schemes to help you.
Here are some of them:
Reflections for Daily Prayer which follows the Anglican lectionary. So you can do it alone, or alongside Morning Prayer (see the CofE Website for that!) You have to buy this
The scripture Union has a free scheme called WordLive which comes as a daily email.
Peter Graystone has written a five-week introduction to the Christian faith which gets people begining to read the Bible. It is called Now a Christian. You get a daily email for five weeks, and half way through each week you can go to a message board and find out what other people are doing the course at the same time are thinking. If you fancy having a go at this you can sign up!
For many Christians, Lent traditionally involves the re-telling of the story of Jesus, especially his final days and moments. Sometimes this is in hymns, prayers or processions, or with great music such as Handel’s Messiah or one of Bach’s Passions, or it is the journeying through Holy Week as a church community. With none of that possible this year and enjoy these things together, we are all exploring ways to think and pray through the story of Jesus. This course, based on Tom Wright’s book Simply Jesus: Small Group Edition, is designed to help us do just that.
We are making the Small Group Edition available for individuals and for congregations. Individuals will be greatly encouraged through the course, but there are also questions that would allow people to dialogue with one another about what they are learning. During these days, this kind of learning can be done virtually via emails with one another or through video chats. Perhaps you and others would gather together in a video chat format to connect and learn together.
You may enroll in this course for no charge from
Tuesday, 24 March, 17:00 until Friday, 27 March 17:00.
The window to enroll in this course is 72 hours. We cannot extend the time so please make sure you enroll while you are still able to. We are so grateful that this gift has been given for free (normally charged at £149.99!) by
Prof. N.T. Wright and N.T. Wright Online.
The link for enrolling is : Simply Jesus - TKC gift
The second resource, is five simple ideas for families to weave prayer and bible readings throughout these days of home schooling. These can be shared by clergy with anyone they think might benefit.