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Posts Tagged ‘University Presbyterian San Antonio Texas’

gatekeeper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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 gates 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.”  John 10:1-4

I certainly enjoyed a recent exploration  of this text.  In the exploration, I was pouring over all the familiar characters of these four verses when I noticed, as if for the first time, the role of the gatekeeper.  My Sunday School mind kicked in and I was trying to sort it all out.  Sheep equal God’s people.  The Shepherd surely suggests church leadership.  Sheepfold equals the Christian church.  The text overtly declares that Jesus is the gate.  The very thing that can be open and shut by the one character I had not thought much about….the gatekeeper.

I can imagine that some gatekeepers pride themselves on just leaving their gate wide open….this can be hard on the hinges.  A gate that is always open ignores what purpose the gate might serve.

I can imagine that other gatekeepers like their locks.  They take seriously when the lock is released and latched.  They don’t expect the world to hang upon its hinges.  They can explain the importance of the gate for safety and security.

But I hope to be a certain kind of gatekeeper.  I want to be the gatekeeper who enjoys the swings of the my gate.  To be the one keeping watch excites me.

  • There are surely those coming who are bringing easy joy and confidence in the fold.  Their woolly warmth will benefit the entire flock and they will arrive to shear and deposit gifts that the flock may give their warmth and security to others.
  • There are surely those coming with specific burdens.  They are coming to the enclosure of the gate so that they can wrestle well and faithfully with their burdens within understood confines and boundaries.  They will need the gate to hold the tension for a while until they, like Jacob are transformed.  Only when they have wrestled into their larger name will the tension of a closed gate no longer be required.

Wait, do I gate-keep for others?  If so, who are these people?  Am I really so powerful as to manage the gate for them?  Such foolishness!  The most fundamental gate is the Christ gate that I have accommodated to my own heart and mind.  This is the intrapersonal gate-keeping that sets the stage for the interpersonal gate-keeping of the 221st General Assembly.   Through my Christ Gate arrives those things with which I need to wrestle.  Then I have opinions about how others should wrestle.  Through my Christ Gate, I learn, live, experiment and having my being.  Then, I imagine what others should experience and learn.    Through my Christ Gate, I experience an abundance that runneth over the rails and I then imagine how to shear others.  In all these ways, I  have made Christ my own and gate-keeping becomes more complicated.

John 10:1-4  is inexhaustable…but my imagination is exhausted …. for now.

Most all of us will arrive to Detroit through certain airline gate numbers.  In our hearts and minds, we will arrive through the Christ gate.  Pragmatically, we arrive as gatekeepers and we will decide what arrives into the fold so that all who are included can be led out by various shepherds.  Isn’t there somewhere ….anywhere…a variation on this text?  I don’t want so much riding on this gatekeeper within a gatekeeper.  24 days!

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made alive in christ.jpg

 

I am privileged to stand with Kelly Allen for Vice Moderator of our General Assembly this June.  I have come to know and appreciate her sensibility in this election process.  Kelly is not one to make herself the hero of own story.  She is careful to be a candidate who is ready for the people.  If elected, she wants to be one who participates in the hope and witness of the Presbyterian Church USA as it seeks to be a faithful body.

Her logo by which she invites us to know her best declares,  “Made Alive In Christ”.  There is joy and celebration in this Christian phrase drawn up from the various epistles of our New Testament and specifically, for her, from Ephesians.   Joy and celebration characterize Kelly’s ministry and life.  More than a catch phrase for the Christian faith, this particular phrase is the key to understanding election and what it means for reformed people.

It was Karl Barth who most powerfully drew out the doctrine of election from Calvin’s work.  Barth reminds us that our election begins in God’s election of God’s self to be One who loves freely.   For Barth, and perhaps for us, we understand this love as Christ and the love arrives for the sake of community.

As I have come to know her, I believe Kelly Allen carries this primary understanding of election into her own circumstance when standing as Moderator for our 221st GA.  Jack Haberer said in a recent gathering in Austin Texas, “To stand as Moderator of GA is to present oneself as a sacrifice”.   His humor and energy carried that moment and that statement, but it left me thinking .  Our reformed theology carries us beyond the imagery of sacrifice and into a doctrine of election.  This doctrine reminds Kelly, and all of us, that we are elected to give ourselves completely into loving the Church and feeling the vitality of Christ as we do it.  This is the essential element of election that relieves us from the false moves of contest.

24 days!

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