Vicar’s Address to the Annual Meeting

“Why All Saints Matters”

January 28, 2024

Greetings Saints. It is excellent to be with you this morning to share some observations on the “state of our congregation”. I first joined you as your Vicar on January 15, 2015. Now entering my 9th amazing year with you. I am blessed and grateful to be with you all. It is hard to describe this sacred place we call All Saints. This community must truly be experienced to fully understand the spiritual breadth and depth of it. But I will do my best to describe this place that has nurtured me, helped me grow; helped me understand more and better what it means to walk the Jesus Way. Who are we as a congregation, Saints?  Why does All Saints matter? Let’s have a look.

We are a” right- sized” Congregation. What do I mean by “right sized” congregation? All Saints is small enough to be a true community and large enough to make a true impact on our world. At All Saints we know each other, we are relatives. You will never be lost in the crowd at All Saints. From your first visit onward, you are visible, welcomed, integral, important, recognized and respected.   In Episcopal-speak we are a “mission sized” congregation. Our “in-person” attendance traditionally hovers between 45-60 each Sunday while our virtual attendance takes our ASA (average Sunday attendance) to 145 persons/families each week. But don’t let the numbers define us. Who are we really?

 We are a relentless community of faith. We are committed to be here, not just surviving but thriving. We are an Episcopal congregation that has never forgotten the message of the “primitive”, 1st Century, Jesus Way Movement. We are a spiritual hybrid, a mixed theological “mutt” if you will. We take the classic understandings of our Episcopal heritage and season them with a delicious blend of First Nations traditions, contemporary Christian thought, coupled with ancient relevance. We Love Fearlessly. We put good back into the world. We follow the Jesus Way. We Gather, Transform and Send. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.

We are opening and welcoming to all. We are a place where all spiritual seekers can find a safe, warm, yet challenging spiritual landing spot. We are inclusive and “Jesus Centered”. We are equally inwardly and outwardly directed. Equally contemplative and socially engaging. As a community of faith, we are inquisitive and introspective, questioning and challenging. Our worship style is a hybrid, swinging on a pendulum between very traditional and very contemporary. Vibrant and engaging liturgies invite us to experience Sacred Space. Stunning liturgical environments wrap us as we journey together spiritually. We pray the Nicene Creed and The All Saints Creed with equal respect and enthusiasm. Our music is stunningly vibrant as we reach across musical genres to praise God, to worship and enliven our hearts. We welcome any spiritual seeker to worship with us, no matter where they are on their own personal spiritual journey. We live “Canku Ota” …the First Nation’s Many Paths Tradition. Respect each and every person’s individual spiritual journey while welcoming them to experience ours.

We reach into the world, our community and make a difference every day with the sacred work we do there. Our outreach programs are our testimony to doing Jesus’ work in the world. Babies in Need, The Diaper Bank, our Lincoln School partnership, our food outreach programs, Traveling Day Society, our Peace and Justice Team…all show the world who we are as we follow Jesus’ words: “Do not be afraid”, and “love one another as I have loved you.”  Great leadership is demonstrated, it is never announced. We demonstrate how to live the Jesus Way daily.

And how do we do all this Saints? You do it! Your volunteering, your financial support, your engagement, your gifts of time, talent and treasure are your commitment to our spiritual family. It is you that keep us alive and thriving. Are we challenged? Absolutely. Are we sometimes stretched to our spiritual, financial and emotional limits? Yes…. but we always find a way to thrive as family. For that is who and what we are.

Who is All Saints? Why does All Saints matter? We are a committed, welcoming and loving community of faith. Following the Jesus Way, we engage each other and our community with great joy, loving grace and deep respect. We are so glad you are here. Welcome Home.

All Blessings, Peace and Grace,

Father Joe Scheeler

Reflection for Epiphany 2 –Lean in Towards the Light

“Jesus the GOAT”

Scripture Reference: Psalm 139: 1-5,12-17

I am really surprised that I have not ever written about this Psalm before. Psalm 139 is my absolute favorite of all the 150 in David’s book of poetry and song. I don’t think I ever preached on a Psalm that I can remember. I preached on a Collect once when the Lectionary offerings for that Sunday were cold, bleak and lacking in “good news” anywhere. Why to I love this piece of Palmistry so much? For me, it speaks directly to who I am as a follower of the Jesus Way. Let’s have a look.

“Blessed One, you have searched me out and you know me. You know my sitting down and my rising up. You discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting places. You are acquainted with all my ways. Indeed, there is not a word on my lips that you do not know it altogether. You are with me behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is to wonderful for me.” Psalm 139: 1-5

Psalm 139 reminds us of the “immanence” of our God.  Immanence and transcendence; two radically different ideas about “where God is”. An “immanent” God is here, now, wrapping us and surrounding us…” up close and personal”, if you will. A “transcendent” God is elsewhere. Heaven, perhaps on a kingly throne somewhere, attended to by hordes of cherubim and seraphim and all the choirs of angels. I love how the First Nation’s Elders describe their idea of an immanent God. “We walk through the mist of the Creator always…” There is never a place that The Creator does not occupy. We are “wrapped” in the God-Presence always. This really speaks to me. To my experiential, spiritual reality a mystic. The Divine Presence, “in whom we live, move and have our being”. Theologian Marcus Borg explains it this way: “Our Divine Presence is a joyful state of consciousness. We move through God like a fish moves through water.”

“For you, yourself created my innermost parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will thank you because I am marvelously made. Your works are wonderful. And I know it well. My body was not hidden from you while it was being made in secret and woven in the depth of the earth. Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb. All of them were written in your book. They were fashioned by you day by day.” Psalm 139: 12-15

Psalm 139 reminds me that we are “born good”. Made in the image and likeness of our God. Created by our Creator to carry our own piece of the Divine Spark into the world, each in our own way. Alive, whole and good. Not dragging the anchor of Original Sin into yet another generation. Born good. Born with free will…to make good decisions or bad ones. George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, calls that Divine Spark…” that of God in everyone.” We are all related. As the Lakota say “tak’uwaye” …you are my relative. When the children asked Grandfather Frank Fools Crow, spiritual leader of the Lakota People, “Grandfather, where does the Creator live?” His answer was… “Little Ones, The Creator lives in that quiet place between our breathing in, and our breathing out.”

Some of us are better about “leaning in toward the Light” of that Divine Spark within us than others. Jesus was the best at it so far. For me, Jesus is the normative standard of how to act and to live into and with our immanent God and our own Divine Spark in the world.  Marcus Borg says that “Jesus is the decisive disclosure of God’s character and passion in the world.” Jesus is the closest representation that we have about what “God is like”.  Marcus Borg says, “Jesus is St. Francis with an exclamation point!” The Jesus Way… simple. “Love one another as I have loved you”. Eight words that changed the world. And “do not be afraid.” The angel Gabriel’s words to Mary that got it all started…and Jesus words to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. Jesus ministry bookended in courage. Put together, they say…” Love Fearlessly!” The simplest, most difficult thing we will ever do.

So here we are…born good, totally and always wrapped in God’s Presence, carrying our own little piece of Godliness within us, following Jesus… the Greatest of All Time (GOAT)… This psalm says it all…” Lord, you have searched me out and you know me”. Can it get any better? Don’t think so…

Peace and Grace Saints.

Father Joe

Message for First Sunday After Epiphany

January 7, 2024

“Unwrapping the Gifts of The Magi”

Scripture Reference: Matthew 2:1-12
The 12 days of our Christmastide Season concludes today
with the celebration of the Feast of Epiphany. Today is a
day of gifting for many cultures around the world as we
remember the visitation of the Magi and their gifting to
the newborn Jesus. This story, the last of our Christmas
stories this year, is again populated with unique and
interesting characters. This time, it is the Magi, translated
“the Wise Ones”. The word Magi itself is unique in the
New Testament Scriptures as it is the only Persian word
to appear there. Why Persian you ask? Excellent question.
Let’s have a look and begin to unwrap the Gifts of the
Magi.
The Magi were actually Zoroastrian “priests”
…astrologers, astronomers and mathematicians – holy
academics, that had journeyed westward to Judea from
Babylon in Persia. They were following a newly observed

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star that fulfilled the cornerstone “prophesies” about a
God- King to be born in the West.
The prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra in ancient Persian) is
the founder of Zoroastrianism, which is the world’s oldest
monotheistic faith. Most of what is known about
Zoroaster comes from the Avesta—a collection of
Zoroastrian religious scriptures. Zoroaster, born in
Northeastern Iran, was a contemporary of Cyrus the
Great, king of the Persian Empire in 6 BCE.
According to Zoroastrian tradition, while partaking in a
pagan purification rite at age 30, Zoroaster had a divine
vision of a single supreme being, who had a son…a “god-
king”. Zoroaster began teaching followers to worship a
single god whom he named Ahura Mazda. And the
Zoroastrian astronomers began watching for the star that
was to signal the birth of the son of their deity, the God-
King.
Zoroastrianism shaped the ancient world’s mighty Persian
Empire. Almost all of today’s contemporary theologians
and scholars agree that the tenets, ethics and theology of
Zoroastrianism shaped the major Abrahamic religions that
followed: Islam, Judaism, Christianity. Zoroastrian
concepts, including the idea of a single god, heaven, hell
and a day of judgment were unique to Zoroaster, and
stood virtually alone in the prevailing views of the
ancients. These Zoroastrian concepts were first introduced

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to the Jewish community while they were living in
captivity for decades in Babylonia. When Persian king
Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., he liberated the
Babylonian Jews. Most returned home to Jerusalem,
bringing with them this newly-acquired Zoroastrian
theological mind set. And when their descendants created
the Hebrew Bible, they included many Zoroastrian
theological ideas and ethical concepts and integrated them
into the books of the Old Testament.
So, what I find so interesting, amazing really is that here
in Matthew’s Gospel what we take as a kind of “cool
story”, almost a footnote really the visit of the Magi, is
really so integral to the “why” behind Jesus’ arrival, and
the Persian astrologers deep interest in it.
Orthodox Christian theologians see Jesus as the
“prophetic fulfillment of the Old Testament”; the
“pontifex” – bridge builder between the Old and New
Covenants with God. In Micah 5:2 as is re-quoted in the
Gospel today:
“And you Bethlehem, in the Land of Judah, are by no
means least among the rulers of Judah. For from you shall
come a Ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Zoroastrian theologians see Jesus’ birth as the “prophetic
fulfillment of Zoroaster’s founding vision of a
monotheistic God and the birth of his Son to the world.

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The Zoroastrians had been waiting and watching the
heavens for centuries for signs of their God-Son’s
appearance. And now they understood what they saw and
what they were given. The Jews too, had been waiting and
watching for centuries for their Messiah-King, but did not
understand what they saw and dismissed what they had
been given. So, the Magi then had been Leaning in
Towards the Light for Centuries…waiting and hoping for
it. And not that the Light had finally appeared, they were
out of the gate and heading West to follow it wherever it
led. Deep faith, manifested in strong action sent the Magi
on their way, to where they were not sure of. To what,
they had no doubt.
Matthew crafts his story beautifully, with symbols, twists,
turns and intrigue to keep us all fully engaged.
First, Matthew has the Magi visiting the King Herod first
upon their arrival in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a stopover
on their journey further south to Bethlehem. It was normal
and respectful protocol for visiting dignitaries to request a
visitation with the King. The Magi asked Herod, “Where
is the child who has been born King of the Jews? For we
observed His star at the rising and have come to pay him
homage.” The Gospel says that: “When King Herod heard
this, he was frightened and all of Jerusalem with him.”
Herod was completely taken off guard both by the Magi’s
visit and their purpose.” What do you mean the King of

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the Jews has been born?” We can imagine him thinking.
I’M THE KING OF THE JEWS! We can image his fear,
politically and power motivated. He was possibly about to
be replaced. “Why wasn’t I told about this?” He
excoriates his learned ones. Where has this happened?
And they quote Micah… Bethlehem, Your Majesty, the
City of Great Kings: Solomon, Saul and David. Herod
knew he was no Solomon or Saul or David. “Who has
come?” can imagine him thinking, “This must be
stopped!” Deep fear, motivating fear. And Herod
immediately begins to craft his plan as he instructs the
Magi, “Go and search diligently for the Child, and when
you have found him, bring me word so that I may go and
pay him homage.” But the Magi certainly did not need
Herod’s permission to “go and search diligently for the
Child.” The Magi were simply visiting Herod as a
courtesy. The Magi, The Zoroastrians and in fact, all of
Persia had been “leaning in toward the light” for
centuries. Waiting and watching. Waiting and Watching.
But then Saints, why was, as the Gospel says: “all of
Jerusalem was afraid”? It helps us to remember here
where the Jews were with the evolution of their world
view at this time in history. The Jews have come through
their “covenantal world view”, where they believed they
were the chosen people of God. Next came their
“prophetic world view” that tried to explain that bad
things kept happening to the Jewish people simply

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because they did not or could not follow the Law. And
now, the apocalyptic world view was prevalent when the
Jews were looking for the coming of the Messiah, the Son
of Man signaling the endtimes were upon them. This is
why “all Jerusalem was afraid”. The end was near.
And then Matthew wraps us in that beautiful moment
when centuries of faith and hope and wondering came
into fruition. Matthew tells us: “They set out, and there
ahead of them went the Star that they had seen at its
rising, until it stopped over the place where the Child was.
And when the Star had stopped, they were overwhelmed
with joy.”
“On entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary, his
mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.”
Mission accomplished, journey concluded, prophesies
fulfilled: Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian.
And then…the Gifts! We can’t forget the gifting can we.
Of course not, the gifting has become one of the enduring
“reasons for the season.” But as we have unwrapped some
of the mysteries of the Magi today, lets carefully and
gently unwrap the gifts themselves. Gently saving the
bows for another day. Carefully, removing the tape and
refolding the wrapping paper. What is inside? And why?

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Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Interesting and yes,
strange gifts for a Child. Let’s have a look about what the
gifts can tell us.
First, the Gold. In those days, and still today, gold is the
universal symbol of value, wealth, stability and
changelessness. Gold never changes, deteriorates, rusts. It
maintains value over time. We are blessed to have it, to
do things with it. It can change our world. Gold is the
stuff of kings; a gift fit for a king. Gold symbolizing Jesus
the King, Jesus the New Messiah, Jesus the Bearer of the
New Covenant. Jesus replacing Herod, Solomon, Saul,
David and all the past kings of the Jews. And yes, Jesus
the newly born, God/Son to the Magi and their Persian
people.
Next, the Frankincense. Frankincense/incense was and
still is used today as a liturgical purification tool.
Frankincense is used to create “sacred space” in many
Christian churches still today and in the Jewish temple
and the Zoroastrian fire temples of the first century.
Frankincense has always been the symbol of the Royal
Priesthood, and its inclusion in the gifts of the Magi,
clearly tells us that Jesus is The New High Priest,
replacing the Sadducees and the Jewish Temple Cult.
And lastly, and most interesting for me, is the Myrrh.
Myrrh is a sap-like resin that comes from the
Commiphora-Myrrha tree common in the Middle East. In

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ancient times is was cherished as beautifully fragrant, for
me…not so much. But what is really interesting is
Myrrh’s use in the First Century world. Myrrh was one of
the most precious, sought after and valuable embalming
fluids used in the First Century world, and used only for
kings and nobility. Embalming fluid…can you image?
Can you imagine today, rolling up to the newborn child
and parents in celebration and having them unwrap jars of
formaldehyde, methanol and sodium nitrate? Why the
myrrh/ The myrrh is the third and final symbol for the
third and final role of Jesus the newborn baby. Jesus as
Sacrificial Savior. Jesus the Suffering Servant of the
prophet Isaiah 53:2-5:
“For he grew up before us like a young plant, like a root
out of dry ground. He had no form or majesty that we
should look to him, nothing in his appearance that we
should desire him. He was despised and rejected by
others, a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity.
He was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely,

he has borne our infirmities and carried our
transgressions, yet we accounted him stricken. Struck
down by God and afflicted. He was wounded for our
transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Upon him was
the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we

are healed.”

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The three gifts of the Magi: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Both symbolizing and prophesying Jesus three roles:
Jesus as Messiah/King, Jesus as High Priest and Jesus as
Sacrificial Savior. Certainly, a lot there to unwrap.
So, Saints what are the lessons that we can learn from
these most amazing travelers the Magi in this most
amazing of Christmas Stories?
First is Faithfulness and Patience. The Light will
always come. The Light of God through Jesus will always
appear for us all. Watch for it, and “do not be afraid” as
the Christmas Angel says. The Magi waited for centuries
for their Son of God’s Star to appear. All in God’s time,
not ours. Be at peace. All will be well.
Next, is Holy Action. When the Light comes, don’t
question it, deny it, ridicule it, or try to kill it as some in
the Christmas story did. Follow it like our Christmas
heroes: The Shepherds, John the Baptist, Joseph and the
Magi. Embrace the light. Lean in Towards the Light.
Don’t analyze the light, try to understand the
Light…simply follow and experience The Light. And
then, be a blessing, like the Magi, who didn’t simply
observe and note, but turned their faithfulness into action.
They went on an arduous physical journey to Lean in
Towards the Light, but also the journey of mind and heart
and spirit of the Jesus Way.

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And lastly, Bring Your Gifts. The Magi did not come
empty handed. They did not wait to be gifted themselves.
The Magi used all of their gifts in simply getting to
Bethlehem. They used their gift of astronomy in finding
the Star. They used their gifts of astrology, theology and
interpretation of their Sacred Scriptures to find meaning
and direction in the signs and symbols they were given.
They spent a fortune traveling miles and miles to follow
the Star. And they also brought the best that they could.
Gifts fit for a king. Gifts like ours. Given in great
humility. Like our Gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure.
Like our Gift of Leaning in towards the Light.
Like Mary and Joseph…Lean in towards the Light with
faith.
Like the Shepherds…Lean in towards the Light with
courage.
Like John the Baptist…Lean in towards the Light with
humility.
Like the Magi…Lean in towards the Light with generous
grace.
“And when they saw that the Star had stopped, they were
overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw
the Child with Mary, His Mother. And they knelt down

and paid Him homage.”

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Today the Star has stopped over this house. May we too,
be overwhelmed with joy as we “Lean in towards our

light”.

May you experience God’s peace, grace and blessing

today and always.
Amen.

Christmas Eve Message – December 24, 2023
“Lean in Towards the Light”

“Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to

Be Shepherds”

Thank you, Saints for the opportunity to be at the pulpit
here at All Saints for this evening’s Christmas Eve
Message. Thank you all for worshiping in community
with us wherever you might be tonight. We are grateful
for you and the grace and energy you bring to us are truly
our Christmas Eve blessings.
During our Advent Season we have been “Preparing the
Way for Jesus”. In many and varied ways, each according
to our own callings, we have been making our homes, our
lives, our souls and spirits ready for Jesus to come and be
with us. Each Sunday during Advent, Martha, Donna and
Debra have shared their stories and given us practical
ways to help us “prepare the way”. We have done the
work. We have made things as ready as possible and
now…the Child is here…sometimes squirmy and fussy.

Sometimes warm and snuggly. The Light that we have
been waiting for is shining now, blazing really, banishing
the darkness of the Winter Solstice, and the darkness of
Advent. Now what do we do, Saints? Now what do we
do?
I think we take a lesson from the heroes in today’s
beautiful Christmas Story Gospel from Luke. Our heroes
today are the shepherds. And we do what they did…

“Lean in Towards the Light”

Of the four Gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, only
two Matthew and Luke speak about Jesus’ birthing story
at all. And it is only in Luke that we have the Shepherd’s
Story. Of all the amazing characters in The Christmas
Story, why the Shepherds? What is Luke trying to show
us? A symbol perhaps, an example? Maybe. Let’s take a
look together and perhaps uncover some different
understanding and learnings about those “lamb chasers”
in our Christmas Message today entitled,
“Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be

Shepherds”.

I love Willie Nelson. His music has graced us decade
after decade and his melodies and lyrics have become
classics from Austin, Texas and around the world. One of

my personal favorites of Mr. Willie’s songs is…” Mama,
Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” ….
Hit it…All Saints All Stars:
“Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don’t’ let ‘em play guitars, and drive them old trucks,
Let‘em be doctors and lawyers and such.”
Well that same song was very applicable, with some
slight editing on my part, for 1 st Century mamas as well.
With deep apologies to Mr. Willie…here goes:
“Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be shepherds,
Don’t let them live stinky and carry a crook,
Don’t let them chase lambies through crannies and
nooks.”
Sorry Willie….
The reality of the 1st Century occupational status hierarchy
was that shepherds were at the very bottom of it. No 1 st
Century Jewish mother would in her right mind,
encourage her child to become a shepherd. Living in the
elements, being stinky and foul smelling most of the time,
eating what you could find laying around, working for
basically nothing, being alone and isolated, trying to keep
a wandering and curious flock together, fighting off

predators armed only with a stick, never having any
formal education. It sounds like Willy’s lament translates
perfectly back into the 1 st Century. The educational reality
of those times was that only about ½ of 1% of the Jewish
population could read or write, and shepherds resided at
the very bottom of that 99 th percentile. The artistic images
that we have of the Shepherd Crew don’t really align with
the 1 st Century reality of the occupation. In the paintings
and our Nativity scenes crafted byChristian artists, we see
the Shepherds all clean and bright, their long hair
beautifully groomed and in place, robes and clothes clean
and new. The sheep also were all just sparkly white. The
reality is that shepherd’s hair didn’t see a cleaning for
months on end. And robes and clothes were often covered
in birthing blood from the lambs, and animal blood from
battles with predators. And the sheep were covered with
thistles and ticks and fleas and all manner of nasty and
undesirable flora and fauna. “Mama, don’t let your
babies grow up to be shepherds…” Shepherding not
only made the shepherds social outcasts for obvious
reasons but religious outcasts as well. Under Jewish law
they were ritually, religiously and ceremonially, unclean
by definition, having to deal daily with blood and dung
and dirty animals on a daily basis. No one saw them as
“heroic and noble protectors of the food chain”, but as
societal “bottom dwellers”. While they performed a

necessary societal function, no proper 1 st Century Jewish
mother would want their daughter to invite one home for
supper.
I think that Luke is telling us a lot by using The
Shepherds as the heroes of his Christmas Story. Who are
the first to learn of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, Son of
Man…the new King of the Jews born in the lineage of
and in the birthplace of David. Who was the first to
know? Not the Temple priests or the Synagogue teachers,
King Herod or the Roman prelates. No, it was these
societal bottom dwellers, the lowest-of-the low who were
the first to know. The first to be invited to the first “Baby
Shower”, to see the blue confetti burst forth…it’s a Boy!
Yes, it was the Shepherds. And the Angels came, and the
light of heaven shown forth and the Angel said, “Do not
be afraid” and you know what…they weren’t! They didn’t
run from the Light or hide from the Light, deny or ignore
the Light. They “Leaned in Toward the Light”. They
embraced it, bathed in it, believed in it, followed it and
found it. Found it in a simple, humble feeding trough.
Not a palace or a school, or a temple. But in a manger…a
simple, communal, humble place of feeding. The Temple
Priests rejected the Light, the Synagogue scholars
ridiculed the Light. The Romans ignored the Light. Herod

tried to kill the Light. But the Shepherds…they leaned
into the light.
For Luke, the Shepherds aren’t societal bottom dwellers
but were the first disciples of the newborn Jesus. The first
who said, Yes! The first to Lean in Towards the Light.
Role models. The Shepherds are role models for us today
in the 21 st century on this Christmas Eve 2023. They are
examples of how to live into the Jesus Way because they
exhibit three-character traits that we find in all excellent
leaders, both secular and spiritual: humility, guidance and
protection. Humility, Guidance and Protection…basic
components of the Jesus Way from the beginning.
The Shepherds had three roles in the first century all
symbolized in Shepherd’s crook. Let’s have a look at the
crook.
The shepherd’s crook was the multi-tool for 1 st century
shepherds. The curved end “The Staff” was used to first,
guide the sheep and secondly to untangle them when
they got trapped in the dense and thorny underbrush that
was everywhere. The reverse end…the “business” end of
the crook was The Rod. The rod was basically a club that
the shepherd used to engage and deter predators… to
protect the sheep. From Psalm 23, we learn…“Thy Rod
and Thy Staff they comfort me…”

For us, Luke’s shepherds are strongly modeling the
behavior that he wants us to repeat and embrace. Here it
is… Humility with each other; Guidance for each other;
and Protection of each other. These Shepherd roles form
the basis of the Jesus Way Movement.
Blessed Ones, the essence of the Shepherd story…” Lean
into the Light”. How? Humility with each other –
Guidance for each other – and Protection of each other.
Luke portrays Jesus’ first followers, these “first to know,
not as Kings, or Lords or scholars. Not beautiful ones or
brilliant ones. Not rich ones or sophisticated ones. Not
mighty or powerful, or intelligent. But the ones at the very
bottom of the societal food chain yet living life with
courage and dignity and honor. Modeling humble
leadership, yet strong leadership none-the-less. Using all
the tools given, both sides of the Crook…the staff to
guide and the rod to protect.
Who are the Shepherds in Luke’s Story? We are! Yes, of
course, we are. As we continue to live and walk the Jesus
Way along with our own rich, deep and personal Spirit
Journeys, we transition back and forth between the role of
sheep and shepherd. We pivot between being student and
teacher. Both Acquiring and dispensing wisdom
continuously, and we live, learn and love our paths along
the Jesus Way. Sometimes receiving Humility, Guidance

and Protection and sometimes offering it. But always
continuing to see the Light of Jesus, the Light of the
Angels of Heaven on that First Christmas night. And
Leaning in Towards That Light. Not ignoring, not
denying, not running from…but Leaning In. This is
Spiritual Leadership of the highest order modeled by
Jesus and lived through the Shepherd in all of us.
So, Saints how do we live into this “Good Shepherdness”
that Jesus is teaching us today. What’s the plan, what’s
the execution strategy? How do we humbly guide and
protect? For our answer we look to our Baptismal
Covenant and our continued embracing of our Baptismal
Vows. Our Baptismal Vows, that Covenant, that Holy
Contract that we made with Creator when we “said yes”
to walking the Jesus Way, and being part of the Jesus
Movement. When we affirmed these sacred words!
Remember?
“Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News
of God in Christ”
I will, with God’s Help
“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?”
I will, with God’s Help

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people,
and respect the dignity of every human being?”
I will with God’s Help.
The Christmas Shepherd Story lived out each day as we
re-affirm our Baptismal promises not by continually
saying them…but by continually doing them. Proclaim-
Seek and Serve – Respect all in the context and example
of Jesus and us the Christmas Shepherds, humbly guiding
and humbling protecting. Courageously, Leaning in
Towards the Light.
Hm…maybe we need to change the words of the song
after all…
“Mama please let your babies grow up to be shepherds
Humbling guiding and showing the way,
Protecting the sheep with our Light as the Way!”
Kind of catchy…I’ll check with Willie, maybe we’ve got
a hit.

Humility, Guidance, Protection
Lean In Towards the Light, Shepherds

Peace and Grace this Night Saints and Merry Christmas.
Amen.