24 May 2011

The Sixth Sunday of Easter - 29 May 2011

Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:7-18
I Peter 3:13-22
St. John 14:15-21


BACKGROUND: The Missionary Journeys of Paul
The first reading for Sunday tells of an incident during Paul’s Second Missionary Journey (49-52) and his sermon in Athens.  These journeys, there were three of them, lasted from 46 through 58, and comprise the most active features of Paul’s life.  They were fundamental in pointing the early church away from a Palestinian existence and into a robust Imperial world, where the faith of the apostles would be buffeted about by the lively theological talk of the empire.  The push is up into Asia Minor, then Greece, and finally Rome.  The work, however, is really concentrated in Asia Minor and Greece, and it is from this new base that nascent Christianity is to form around its new gentile members.  In a way, Paul, exhibits what had been going on in the Jewish community for years in the Diaspora.  The events of the 6th Century BCE, and the Babylonian Captivity pushed the Jewish community into Egypt, but also in later years into other parts of the Roman Empire.  This provided a fertile seedbed for Paul, a community of people who understood the roots of his message.  He did not stop there, however, as the first reading attests. 

Acts 17:22-31
Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, "Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, `To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him-- though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For `In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said,

`For we too are his offspring.'

Since we are God's offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

Although Paul is the speaker, it is likely that the words are actually Luke’s, providing an introduction, three sections, and a conclusion.  The format, if not the content, is similar in nature to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost.  Paul however is speaking to a totally different audience.  He acknowledges the devoutness of his Greek audience and proclaims faith in one God.  His proclamation is not the preaching of the apostles, but rather a pointed message to the Greeks, about this one God: creator, not myth; present, not removed; intimately related to humankind. At this point, Luke/Paul makes his real pitch, about the God who judges the individual at the end of time, which judgment is accomplished by the one raised by God – Jesus Christ.  Luke/Paul uses his knowledge of Greek philosophy and religious life to tailor his message for his Greek hearers.  Unlike Peter, who appeals to the audience’s knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, Paul uses the experience of his unique audience to proclaim Christ.

Breaking open Acts:
  1. What would your words be to a non-believer?  How would you describe your faith?
  2. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “the unknown God”?
  3. What are the hallmarks of faith in the neighbors that live next to you?

Psalm 66:7-18, Jubilate deo

Bless our God, you peoples; *
make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Who holds our souls in life, *
and will not allow our feet to slip.

For you, O God, have proved us; *
you have tried us just as silver is tried.

You brought us into the snare; *
you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.

You let enemies ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water; *
but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.

I will enter your house with burnt-offerings
and will pay you my vows, *
which I promised with my lips
and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.

I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts
with the smoke of rams; *
I will give you oxen and goats.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, *
and I will tell you what he has done for me.

I called out to him with my mouth, *
and his praise was on my tongue.

If I had found evil in my heart, *
the Lord would not have heard me;

But in truth God has heard me; *
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, *
nor withheld his love from me.

Poussin - The Red Sea

It is unfortunate that the lectionary begins the Psalter for today without the benefit of verse six, which gives us the context of this psalm.  “He turned the sea to dry land/the torrent they crossed on foot.  There we rejoiced in him.” (Alter)
The thanksgivings that rush through this psalm flow from this remembrance of the deliverance at the Red Sea and the subsequent journey of forty years in the wilderness (see verse 10, “You tested us…” At verse 13 things change.  Suddenly we are in the first person singular, and the context includes the temple in Jerusalem.  Some commentators think that the later part of the psalm (verses 13 and onward) was attached to an earlier and older psalm.  The concluding verses are replete with references to worship and prayer – the products of a thankful heart, introduced in the initial verses of the psalm.  The locus for such thanksgivings is the temple with its altar, sacrifices, and liturgy.

Breaking open Psalm 66:
1.     For what are you thankful?
2.     How do you express that thanksgiving in worship?

I Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you-- not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

After a long appeal about how to live a Christian life, Peter suddenly turns to the reality of persecution.  If Peter is indeed the author of this book, then it must have come immediately prior to the persecutions under Nero (64 CE).  What persecutions, then.  In Matthew we get a sense of the persecutions of Christians at the hands of both family and neighbor who chose not to see Jesus as the Messiah.  Here too, it is not the official persecutions of the state, which Peter addresses, but rather the simple hatred exerted toward Christians by their pagan neighbors.  In the face of this, Peter urges his readers to simply live a good life and to be informed by the suffering of Jesus.  The final verses serve to inform on the true nature of baptism (a baptism that set these people apart from the neighbors around them).  The earlier mentions of Noah, and the implied salvation from a watery death, give the baptismal context that Peter wishes to point out to his readers.  Now they have a new “contract”, a new agreement that allows them to live with a good conscience in a relationship with the God who does not condemn them.

Breaking open I Peter:
  1. Do you, have you ever had to stand up for your faith?
  2. Are Christians persecuted in this age?
  3. How?

Saint John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Here Jesus holds discourse with his disciples and makes promises to them.  There is almost a legal air to the discussion Jesus holds.  The Advocate (the paraclete, the mediator) becomes a third presence of mediation and conciliation for those who believe.  Jesus comments on his coming departure, but is quick to note that some one else will be providing support and life to those who follow him.  The powerful legal notions are coupled with family images as well.  “I will not leave you orphaned” would be a stark image in those days.  Implicit in the image of the orphan are ideas of death, and illness.  Orphans were not the victims of intentional abandonment, but rather were orphaned due to the vagaries of life and survival.  This is not to be the life of those who follow Jesus.  Help and succor will always be at hand.

Breaking open the Gospel:
  1. How does the Holy Spirit stand next to you?
  2. What does it mean when we call the Holy Spirit “the advocate”?
  3. What is the power of Jesus’ image when calling us orphaned at his leaving?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray the Collect for Sunday:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

17 May 2011

The Fifth Sunday of Easter - 22 May 2011

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
I Peter 2:2-10
St. John 14:1-14


BACKGROUND: The Diaconate
One of the notable changes in church life in the last century was the revival of the diaconate as a permanent vocation.  In the past, candidates for the priesthood were first ordained to the transitional diaconate, and then ordained to the priesthood.  Although that still obtains, there are those now who are called to the permanent diaconate, who do not pursue priestly ordination after their ordination as deacons.  This role, as deacon, has ancient roots (see Acts 6, and Stephen, below) where seven men were charged with the task of serving charitable cases in the early church.  The permanent diaconate was not abandoned in the Eastern Church as it was in the West, where it became a step in the ordination to the priesthood.  Deacons, in the Anglican communion report directly to their bishops, and are charged with work in the community, work with the poor, the ill, those imprisoned, the homeless, and the hungry.  They work in conjunction with the priests in a parish, where their special liturgical ministries are the announcement of the Holy Gospel, the prayers, and service at the Altar.  The sign of their office is a diagonal stole, worn over the left shoulder, and/or the dalmatic. 

Acts 7:55-60
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.

With the introduction of Stephen, Luke begins a program similar to that which he takes with both Peter, and later Paul.  Stephen, as Luke describes him, takes on several aspects of Jesus.  He is charged by the Sanhedrin with charges also leveled against our Lord: 1) blasphemies against Moses and God, 2) derogatory comments about the Temple and the Law, and finally, 3) the destruction of the Temple and the rethinking of Mosaic customs.  The Sanhedrin does not provide a verdict, or at least Luke does not record it.  Stephen’s execution seems to be more of a vigilante action, stoning being the punishment for blasphemy. Stephen reacts to the charges against him.  He preaches a lengthy sermon that accuses the Israelite leaders of being stiff-necked, and in opposition to the Holy Spirit.  Our reading takes up after this sermon, and the immanence of Stephen’s stoning.  His look up into heaven is an affirmation of the truth of his testimony, and he acclaims Jesus as “the Son of Man”.  Of special interest is the presence of Saul (Paul), who witnesses the execution.  Like Jesus, Stephen prays for those who will kill him, and the “receive my spirit” quotation is similar to the crucifixion of Jesus.  In the Church, Stephen is remembered as the protomartyr, the first of many martyrs that will follow.

Breaking open Acts:
  1. What are your thoughts about martyrdom?  We have several examples in both Islam and Christianity in our own time. 
  2. How would you speak up for your faith?
  3. How do you think this event affected the man Saul, soon to become Paul?

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, In te, Domine, speravi

In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; *
deliver me in your righteousness.

Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.

Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.

Into your hands I commend my spirit, *
for you have redeemed me,
O LORD, O God of truth.

My times are in your hand; *
rescue me from the hand of my enemies,
and from those who persecute me.

Make your face to shine upon your servant, *
and in your loving-kindness save me."

This is a psalm of supplication, which uses “boilerplate” phrases from other psalms and scriptures.  The image of God is highly anthropomorphic, with God being asked to “lean down” so as to hear the concerns of the psalmist.  The images that follow are a mix.  The psalmist describes his request to God, that God be a fort – a military protector.  In the following verse the images are that of a fowler, with the psalmist caught in a net.  The psalmist commends his “spirit” to God.  The “spirit” is not the soul, but rather the psalmist’s very life breath (ruah or nephes).  This psalm is chosen, perhaps, to give voice to Stephen’s mind as he awaits his death.

Breaking open Psalm 31:
1.     How is God your refuge?
2.     Do you have other persons who serve as your refuge?  Who are they?
3.     How do you repay them?

I Peter 2:2-10

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation-- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:

"See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,"


"A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God's people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

The first verse of this text used to be the verse of the Introit for the First Sunday after Easter, which was known as Quasimodo geniti (As new born babes…). It was the Sunday on which the newly baptized took off their white robes, given them at the time of their baptism at the Great Vigil of Easter. It is from this name that Victor Hugo’s character (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) takes his name.  In our reading for today, the author uses a series of images that are intended to describe the state of those who have been baptized.  Like the psalm for today, several images are used and to great effect.  Jesus is described as the chief cornerstone, and Peter urges his readers to likewise be stones, “living stones built up into a spiritual house.”  Other images are their status as the People of God.  The Hebrew Scriptures picture Israel as a priestly nation, courtiers in the Divine court, reading to offer cultic service.  Peter names the Christian initiates as the successors of this divine service and office.

Breaking open I Peter:
  1. How would you describe your state as a Christian, young, mature, on the edges, firmly in the center?
  2. What does it mean when the author calls the church, “a holy nation,” and “a royal priesthood”?
  3. What does that mean for you?

Saint John 14:1-14

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."

Following the washing of feet, Jesus takes time to instruct his disciples on the meaning of his departure.  Previous announcements about his fate have troubled and disturbed the disciples.  Now Jesus seeks to reassure them.  These assurances are interrupted twice, once by Thomas, who says, “Lord, we do not know”, and secondly by Philip, “Lord, show us the Father.”  The meat of these discourses is found in the notions of relationship and place.  First, Jesus wants the disciples to understand the fundamental relationship that he has with the Father.  Both are involved in the work of salvation, and Jesus emphasizes their unity and cooperation.  The second notion is that of place and presence.  The ubiquity of Jesus presence gives arguments about the place of his presence a sense of futility and ignorance.  The presence is seen in the work that the Father and the Son accomplish in the lives of those who follow.  In this way, Jesus is “way”, “truth”, and “life.”

Breaking open the Gospel:
  1. What questions do you have for Jesus?
  2. How might the answers augment or change your faith?
  3. How are Jesus and the Father one?  What is your understanding of that relationship?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray the Collect for Sunday:

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

09 May 2011

The Fourth Sunday of Easter - 15 May 2011

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, 15 May 2011

The Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
I Peter 2:19-25
St. John 10:1-10


BACKGROUND: The Sundays of Easter
Although we are in the midst of Eastertide, it is not too late to talk about the Great Fifty Days that stretch from Easter Day to the Ascension of our Lord and finally to Pentecost (Fiftieth).  The starting point (Pesach) and the ending point (Pentecost) are both based on Jewish festivals.  The Sundays are “of Easter” rather than “after Easter” as the old calendar named them.  Being “of Easter” threads them into a week of Sundays, expanding the Feast of a single day, or an Octave of eight days, but rather in an entire season of celebration.  Some of the Sundays have over-whelming themes that come from the readings for the day.  The Second Sunday of Easter is known in some places as “Thomas Sunday” noting his place in the Gospel for the day.  The Third Sunday focuses on the event at Emmaus and the breaking of the bread, while the fourth is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday”.  Each Sunday’s readings help focus on different aspects of the resurrection, and imply a mystagogy that continues to acquaint both the newly baptized and those who have long been baptized with the ways of life expected of the Easter Christian.

Acts 2:42-47
Those who had been baptized devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

These verses function for Luke (and for Mark, who first formed them) as a summary of “events”, for neither was that familiar with the entirety of the early Christian community’s history.  A similar summary exists in both chapters 4 and 5.  Luke seems to want to stress a continuity of development on the part of the early Church, and to give some indication of what were the elements of its purpose and mission.  In a way it represents and idealization of early Christian life, a list of virtues to be strived for, rather than a representation of what really was.  The temple, according to these verses, still functions as a place of worship and gathering, and it is there that the fellowship hears the apostolic kerygma (proclamation) and is sent out in mission.

Breaking open Acts:
  1. How would you describe the life of your congregation?
  2. How would you describe what makes you different as a Christian?
  3. Is your congregation growing?  If not, why?

Psalm 23, Dominus regit me

The LORD is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.

He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You spread a table before me in the presence of those
who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

This psalm makes clear the nomadic and pastoral life of the people of Israel.  That it is expressed in a simple and forthright way has made the psalm popular and accessible in many traditions.  The language used in the psalm is technical, associated with the vocabulary of real shepherds so as to complete the identification with the real.  The point of view of the psalm is that of the one being led – the sheep, or the follower of YHWH.  Each situation then expemplifies how the Shepherd/God cares for the flock/nation.  Verse three reaches back to creation where the nephesh (life-breath, translated somewhat speciously in the BCP as “soul”) is given back.  Other themes are justice, danger, death, food, and anointing, each expanding the sheep/human connection and experience of life under the Shepherd/God.  The psalmist introduces the joy of life at points.  The anointing is not medicinal, but rather sensual – life is full of small luxuries!  Rather than having us hope for a future, the psalm really asks us to look at the joys of a present day experience of God.  It is not something to be hoped for, but rather to be lived.

Breaking open Psalm 23:
1.     What meaning does this psalm have for you?
2.     When, in your life, did it take on this meaning?
3.     How is God your shepherd?

I Peter 2:19-25

It is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

"He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth."

When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Peter (and Paul, for that matter) does not take on the institution of slavery.  Rather, they attempt to reimage the condition of so many who were being drawn to Christianity.  Many knew the realities of an unjust master or mistress, and so Peter uses it as an example of the Christian ideal.  Unjust suffering is a means for the individual to identify with the sufferings of the Christ.  The author is so wedded to this model that he makes an attempt to restate the Suffering Servant songs of IInd Isaiah (53:4-12) in verses 21-25.  The images of the final verse of the reading are especially appropriate on this Good Shepherd Sunday.

Breaking open I Peter:
  1. Have you ever suffered unjustly?
  2. What was the occasion?
  3. How was your suffering like the suffering of Jesus?

Saint John 10:1-10

Jesus said, "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. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, 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."

The operating model of these sayings in John is the Palestinian practice of having a common sheepfold, in which all the community’s herds were safe guarded in a common place.  It was important then for the sheep to recognize the voice of their owner.  It was that voice that they would follow.  John guises Jesus as both the shepherd and the gate - the familiar voice, and the safe door that keeps them inside away from predators.  Others, and here we think on the “shepherds of Israel” who are misleading their flocks (read Pharisees) may enter through the gate, but their business is neither appropriate or honest, for they have come to steal.  Jesus, both the voice of the shepherd, and the reality of the gate, is the only safe place for the sheep.

Breaking open the Gospel:
  1. Do you hear and know God’s voice?
  2. What do you hear?
  3. How does God “keep you in” and protect you?

After breaking open the Word, you might want to pray the Collect for Sunday:

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.