Sunday 22nd April 2018
4th Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18

Todayís readings are laced with workplace imagery; Peter and Johnís appearance before the authorities might initiate reflection and prayer for those engaged in our own legal system or prayers for those around the world who are persecuted for their faith. The image of the Good Shepherd is a reminder of the role of those whose employment is in the care of livestock; Peterís description of Christ as the Cornerstone offers a perspective that is rooted in the world of engineering and construction; the words of the New Testament epistle point again to the importance of seeking a society that seeks wellbeing for all and cares for its most vulnerable and needy.

One relevant theme, that might particularly be drawn out from these various strands, is the issue of leadership. This is a time of year in our own nation when local and national election campaigns tend to occur, along with the seemingly constant political narratives that prevail. The image of the shepherd is one that Scripture regularly uses to commend specific values and approaches to the leadership task. It is a metaphor that permeates the Churchís own language and concepts of leadership.

This provides a natural platform to pray not only for those who hold or aspire to political leadership, but for all who hold leadership responsibility in our world and societies. The context in which we do this is one that places our relationship with God, and our understanding of his nature, at the veary heart of the leadership task. Psalm 23 was written by King David, an individual who is heralded in both Christian and Jewish traditions as a great leader. Yet his story is also punctuated with personal failings and shortcomings, reminding us of the vulnerability and susceptibility of even the greatest of leaders. Psalm 23 is one of a number of places where David acknowledges his complete reliance upon his God as he exercises considerable responsibility within the world of his day. This has significant application, whatever our role in society might be.