A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (9:36-43)
Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.
> The good shepherd theme used to be on the third Sunday of Easter.
> Due to orders from the council of Nicea, people were ordered to stand and not kneel – raised in Christ.
> The first thirty verses cover the conversion of Saul to Paul. (One of four stories.)
> This one is taken from Luke’s perspective.
> Joppa is a suburb of Tel Aviv.
> Tabitha (Hebrew) and Dorcas (Greek) both mean “gazelle.”
> Lydda is located about twenty miles from Joppa.
> Widows were the most vulnerable and at-risk group – no means of support.
> Followed up by the baptism of Cornealeus.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
> Probably the most familiar of all of the Psalms.
> There are three different forms of this Psalm in the Book of Common Prayer.
> The chapter is divided into two sections (v. 1-4 and v. 5-6)
> The first section deals with the shepherd and his sheep.
> The second section deals with being welcomed by protectors.
> In some societies shepherds were considered as outcasts.
> “Goodness” and “Mercy” were two “bodyguards” that went with the person.
> God’s overwhelming protection of his people.
A Reading from the Book of Revelation (7:9-17)
I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
> All nations refers to Gentiles and Jews alike.
> Jesus is portrayed as the lamb.
> The palm branch is a sign of victory.
> Seven-fold praise of God.
> The “great ordeal” refers to the persecution of the Christians by the Romans.
> As in Isaiah (49:10), the lamb and shepherd are the same – referring to Jesus.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to John (10:22-30)
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.”
> In the three year lectionary cycle, different verses of John 10 are used.
> The celebration was taking place in December – Hanukkah.
> Peter and John both taught in the portico of Solomon.
> Sheep image — “my” sheep — God’s choice.
> The Jews challenged Jesus because he identified himself with God.