Homily for the eighth Sunday after Pentecost – Shepherd’s Sunday two

Updated: Jun 20

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Good morning bus riders!

I hope everyone received the email with the link to the Episcopal lectionary page and everyone has read all the readings for today.

I talk about them all, not just a select few. So, let’s get started!

In case you pay close attention to the readings, you will notice it wasn’t too long ago we read Psalm 23. That is the one we talked about memorizing as children: The Lord is my shepherd.

We read that song and talked about it back during the Easter season, when the fourth Sunday of Easter is called “Good Shepherd Sunday.” There were readings that went along with it then that had a shepherding theme.

Do you remember those?

<Look for nodding heads or quizzical faces.>

Back in late April, the Gospel reading was when Jesus said he was the “Good Shepherd.” Jesus differentiated a good shepherd from a hired hand. He said a hired hand would run away from danger, whereas a good shepherd [Jesus] would lay down his life for the sheep.

Today, it is the optional reading from Jeremiah that deals with this aspect of shepherding the strongest. There, Yahweh told Jeremiah, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!”

In case anyone gets lost in this concept of shepherding and thinks Jesus and Yahweh were concerned about only four-legged wooly animals, Yahweh made it clear that “sheep” is metaphor for the flocks of souls that are supposed to serve Him.

He said, “concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them.”

That means priests and rabbis, ministers and pastors. It means Jewish and Christian leaders are [and were] the shepherds, with Jews and Christians representing the flocks of sheep [and goats].

Of course, Jesus was the Good Shepherd, which means he was the prototype of all good shepherds that would come after him.

That is the prophecy Yahweh gave Jeremiah, when He said, “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

Now, you have heard me speak of the meanings behind names, so it is important here to know that the name “David” means “Beloved.” More than Yahweh prophesying that a line of descendants of David will become good shepherds – AND David was a boy shepherd – the deeper truth says Yahweh will raise from His Beloveds, who are the souls married to Him, as was David, Jeremiah, Jesus, and many others.

The “branch” that would be raised – meaning elevated above and beyond the level of Judaic teachings, to a divine level of Spiritual insight – was Christianity.

I use the past tense – “was” – because that “branch raised” was a collection of men and women whose souls had married Yahweh, all becoming Saints and all becoming Jesus resurrections.

To truly be "Christian" all members must be "Anointed one of God," which means it is a statement of exclusivity, where only those whose souls have married Yahweh are "Christs." What we call "Christianity" today pales in comparison.

That state of ‘religion’ did not exist when Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah, as the Northern Kingdom had already been lost to the Assyrians, with those flocks scattered to the four corners of the earth; and, the Southern Kingdom had mostly already been lost to the Babylonians, with Jerusalem under siege and many Judeans either dead or in captivity.

The ‘religion’ that came after Jesus “laid down his life for the sheep” is not the same state of Christianity today – the “branch raised” – as it was originally. So, the same “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” exists today as did then, when all hell was collapsing in around Jerusalem.

Now, I have said before and I will say again, “I am not in any way affiliated or associated with the Episcopal Church.” I use their lectionary because it is clear to me that at some time, long ago, good shepherds devised a schedule of readings that still has the purpose of feeding the flocks properly. Whether or not the originators were colar-wearing Episcopalians I do not know; and, it does not matter.

Those good shepherds have all died and gone away, leaving behind nothing that teaches their replacements how to see that intended purpose of a lectionary, designed divinely so the flocks are fed true spiritual food.

When the pandemic became announced in March 2020, the Episcopal Church proved it was a bunch of hired hands, because they ceased tending to the flocks and they all ran away in fear. They feared death; and, that is the opposite of being a good shepherd … one who will lay down his or her life for the flock.

In order to maintain some sense of value, I imagine to keep those tithes flowing in to pay the bills of empty churches, the Episcopal Church ventured out into the tech realm of YouTube and Facebook streaming video. They made priests wear masks while standing in front of a camera, amid an empty church or at home – denied access to a church – where they exposed how little those priests knew about spiritual matters. Rather than keep it private, for their flock to witness in person, the broadcast their incompetence for all to see.

When I was an Episcopalian, I was limited to how many priests I could hear give a sermon on Sundays. Often, I felt much was left out, which could have been said – should have been said. I assumed somewhere, at other places - surely - a better sermon was preached; and, I was just unlucky in choosing the church I went to, because the priest was already in place.

After Coronavirus became the wolf that threatened to kill everyone, I was able to watch several priests, from many different churches, all on the same Sunday, from the comfort of my own office chair. I would watch several different priests present his or her sermons on the same readings.

All sucked. Thus, I realized I was not the unlucky one. All Episcopalians were equally unlucky. The spiritual food troughs were empty everywhere.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” Yahweh said.

In the Gospel reading today, the verse that fits this theme as ‘Shepherd’s Sunday part two” says, “[Jesus] saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

I can identify with that part about being "like sheep without a shepherd."

Because we know Jesus said he was the Good Shepherd, this says the role a Good Shepherd plays is as teacher.

Teaching is much more than trying to prove one is so well educated that sermons should aways be graded an A by a college professor. The sheep need to be taught the truth of Scripture, which is never taught in seminaries.

The rabbis, scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day and age knew nothing worthy of teaching, so the “crowd” Jesus saw gathered before him had “hurried [to be] there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of [Jesus and his apostles].”

“There” means the flood plain of the Sea of Galilee, along the northeastern shore, where a steep hillside became Jesus’ ‘pulpit.’

This Gospel reading from Mark skips over many verses, which are those that tell of the feeding of five thousand and Jesus walking on water. The first five verses are setting that up. In the stories of Mark's sixth chapter leading up to this point, Jesus had sent his apostles out as ‘interns’ in ministry; and, while they were gone, John the Baptist was beheaded and buried.

The way the first five verses of this selection read, it seems that Jesus was eager to hear the report back. The translation that says, “The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught” needs to be read differently than how that appears.

I realized this week, in my analysis of the Greek text, that is not what is written.

The word that says the apostles “gathered” is actually a statement that, while they were gone, Jesus had found the place by the sea to be his “synagogue.” That word means a place for “gathering together.”

Jesus was teaching the apostles how to be teachers of flocks, when they "gathered together around him."

By seeing that written that way, I saw that instead of the apostles telling Jesus all they did and taught, it was Jesus who explained to his apostles how they did what they did and taught the things they taught. That means Jesus was shepherding his flock, by preparing his apostles to become good shepherds.

By having sent twelve out in ministry, given the talents of Jesus, when they returned there were then thirteen Jesuses … and that came in handy when so many would be fed with five loaves and two fish.

Seeing that shepherding of leaders is how a “righteous branch is raised.”

Without being told the meaning and purpose of readings – the five loaves represent the Torah, by the way – to pretend to lead a flock without divine insight reduces one to being just a hired hand. A hired hand is anyone in the business for the money and benefits, who buys a book here and there and tries to learn what the opinions of others say about things they have no insight as to the meaning.

Jesus never told his followers, "Memorize what I say and repeat it after I am gone." Instead, Jesus often spoke in parables, which were easily understandable and readily remembered, but the deeper meaning demanded on seek within and find divine assistance in understanding. In essence, Jesus taught the true 'seminary' is learning what Yahweh tells one's soul.

This past year, I watched one hired hand after another on Facebook church when the pandemic was in full force. It was like going to children's Sunday School and listening to eight year olds try to explain the meaning of a reading.

Children doing that is cute. Adults getting paid to be shepherds of flocks showing they know as little as children was embarrasing.

When the Mark reading jumps to the end of the chapter and tells of the people seeing Jesus get off a boat in Gennesaret, where they recognized him and “rushed” to take all their sick to lay before Jesus, hoping to touch his garment for healing, this must be seen as all flocks were running away from their shepherds, because none of them were teaching them, healing them, or saving their souls.

None of them had been taught by their rabbis to be interns in ministry and go out in pairs, healing the sick and feeding the hungry spiritual food. So, they ran to find Jesus, because Jesus was it.

Jesus became a walking, talking synagogue; so, wherever he went, that became a place for spiritual food seekers to gather together.

I saw the purpose behind the long, lost elders of the Episcopal lectionary and their decision to split this reading from Mark in two pieces. Before, I just presumed they didn't want to make the reading like Passions Sunday, where too much is offered at once.

This week, I saw how Jesus represented the Tabernacle in which the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Jesus was also the Good Shepherd because wherever he went he took the power of Yahweh with him. That meant Jesus taught his apostles to be the same way.

Hopefully, that imagery makes it clear that the split reading from Mark was designed to accommodate both the “Woe to the shepherds” reading from Jeremiah AND the Second Samuel reading about David telling Nathan he wanted to build a house for the Ark to be kept in, rather than some flimsy tent.

Yahweh appeared to Nathan in a dream and told him:

“I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to

this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have

moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the

tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why

have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

That made it clear that Yahweh’s mobility was the greatest asset the Israelites had as His chosen people. That need for divinity to be like David, who led the troops out and led them back in; and, in the same way, as a boy shepherd David led the flock out to pasture in the morning and led them back into the fold in the evening.

David carried Yahweh with him wherever he went, and as long as Yahweh was free to be mobile in David, the people were properly cared for.

Now, in the divine communication that Yahweh had with Nathan, we read:

“Moreover Yahweh declares to you that Yahweh will make you a house. When

[David’s] days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your

offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his

kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his

kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.”

That can easily be mistaken as Yahweh telling David, through Nathan, how David would have Solomon and Yahweh would let Solomon built a temple, not of cedar, but of stone.

That is not what that says.

If you take the time to read the Hebrew and contemplate what was truly said, you will find that is a prophecy of Jesus and the advent of Christianity.

Jesus took his ministry to the people, regularly being on the move. The letters written by Paul are to places he traveled to in ministry, as he too was regularly on the move.

Solomon built a temple and it was named after him, not Yahweh. That led to the split and collapse of two nations, because they locked their God inside a house of stone, rejecting the cornerstone needing to be in each of themselves.

The Babylonians tore down that temple and took Jeremiah and those he warned into captivity.

The Persians freed the Israelites and built them a second temple. The Jews under Herod refurbished that temple so grandly that it took on the name of Herod, not Yahweh.

Jesus was sent to tell them Yahweh does not live in houses made by human hands. Then, the Jews had the Romans kill Jesus.

Not long after that, the Romans destroyed that temple.

After the Roman emperor Constantine saw a religious movement as the way to maintain empirical powers, the church they created began a systematic movement to erect cathedrals and temples for the pagan to be led to worship, after they destroyed any and all Saints who would not let Yahweh be put in a fixed house.

This makes it important to see the prophecy from Yahweh through Jeremiah: “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch” as being the same message as the prophecy from Yahweh through Nathan that said, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.”

The element of being “raised” has nothing to do with lumber or bricks and mortar. It means one's soul being divinely uplifted.

It is important to keep in perspective that David was pure of heart and soul when he logically deduced, “I have a cedar house, why not build a cedar house for the Ark?”

David was not limited to staying in his palace; so, he never expected Yahweh to be limited by one either.

After all, it was Yahweh who led David to take Jerusalem from the Jebusites and then move the Ark from where it had been safely stored for fifty years into the City of David. The purpose for those steps was to make sure the Israelites forevermore needed to have their souls be married to Yahweh – individually – just as David’s soul was.

The Tabernacle was a symbol of marriage.

Marriage cannot become imprisonment or it will not work. Marriage must be free to move and return, like sheep let out of the sheepfold in the morning and put back in the sheepfold in the evening.

Marriage is all about the learning through internship – being fed new spiritual food each day [green pastures] – manna from heaven gathered daily [from the synagogue] – and then returning home to reflect on that newly learned each day.

The somewhat long Psalm 89, which accompanies the Second Samuel reading, is one not written by David. It was written by Ethan the Ezrahite, who was a cymbal player who knew David. From what I read, young Solomon did not know his father well enough to write a song about him, so he had Ethan write this psalm in memorandum.

Whoever wrote it is irrelevant, because it is in the voice of Yahweh, in the first person. It sings about David, suchc that these verses must be seen as divinely inspired and well beyond what one ‘band member’ knew about his king.

This makes Psalm 89 be just like the prophecy told to Nathan and the prophecy told to Jeremiah, because all speak in the first person, as Yahweh.

Again, I encourage all of you to take the time to contemplate the Hebrew text and see how the lyrics of this song sing about the soul of David being married to his God.

Through marriage David became a “hand” of Yahweh that reached out as an embracing “arm” around the Israelite people.

Through divine marriage, David lowered his self-ego and raised the face of Yahweh as his.

When verse 26 sings about “the rock of my salvation,” this is the Spiritual cornerstone that one’s soul has been built upon, through marriage of a soul to Spirit; and, this is the core meaning of Yahweh telling Nathan, “Yahweh will make [David] a house.”

David - a name meaning "Beloved" - was a house in which Yahweh dwelled, through the marriage of David's soul ["dearly beloved"] to Yahweh's Spirit. The Ark of the marriage vows were etched into the walls of David's soul. Wherever David went, Yahweh went with him.

When this is seen, verses 30 to 33 then sing about what will happen IF the children of David become wayward. These begin by singing:

“If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my judgments; If they break

my statutes and do not keep my commandments.”

This is prophesying the onset of bad shepherds and hired hands.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” Yahweh said.

Verse 32 of Psalm 89 sings [literally], “I will punish with a rod their transgressions , and with stripes their iniquities.”

That may seem harsh, as if Yahweh Himself will “destroy and scatter” the flock with instruments of punishment. However, that should not be seen as the point.

In Psalm 23, the one we all memorized as Christian children, verse 4 sings, “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.”

A “rod” must be understood as a tool used by a good shepherd, which keeps the wayward sheep from wandering too far away and getting lost. Getting scattered means they become easy prey to wolves. Thus, seeing the shepherd with a “rod” and a “staff” tells the sheep they are being watched over and being protected.

There is a saying you all know, which is: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Well, guess what. The synagogues during Jesus’ day used stones to smash in the heads of those who pointed out how flawed they were as shepherds. They saw sheep only as sacrificial animals. That is the true meaning of “destroy the sheep of Yahweh’s pasture.”

The priests back then had become the stump of Jesse, as none of them was a “Branch of David.” None of their souls had become married to Yahweh. Their abject lack of divine insight “scattered the flock of Yahweh’s pasture,” more than their abuses of some.

It wasn't stonings that made thousands of lost sheep run towards Jesus, whenever they saw him. They ran to him because his voice offered them the healing that came from learning the truth of Yahweh.

Today’s churches of Christianity are not much different that the synagogues of ancient Judea and Galilee. There are no priests in the Episcopal Church who are armed with a rod to make sure the sin of homosexuality is not a path wandered down. They certainly do not keep a ready stone pile, with which wayward parishoners can have theri sins be punished In fact, it has become quite the opposite.

Episcopal churches now fly flags of pride that have the same effect. By not using a "rod" to control waywardness, their leaders teach their priests how to destroy the souls of the sheep of Yahweh’s pasture and scatter those who are confused by the words of hired hands ... not saying the same as the words of Scripture.

Psalm 89 returns from stating there was known to come a time when souls would divorce themselves from the agreement made with Yahweh – the wedding vows of the Commandments – knowing there would come the time when the Ark would be hidden in a Temple of stone.

The "rod" of Yahweh would come as one prophet being sent after another, all striking the false leaders with the truth and whipping them with the prophecies of ruin to come, if they did not turn away from sin.

Each Sunday those prophets sent bearing "rods" are read aloud in Episcopal churches, only to have those warnings discounted or dismissed.

Yahweh said, “I will not break my covenant, nor alter the words that come from my lips.” That says marriage to Yahweh is not based on adjusting the terms of marriage, when the social changes make it hard to worship self and still be able to call oneself a child of God.

Yahweh is committed to keeping up His end of the marriage vows. That means a soul seeking redemption and salvation must have the same commitment.

There is no building that is married to Yahweh, as buildings do not have souls.

That means you cannot put the Spirit of Yahweh in a building and expect it to stay put.

The Ark was where the marriage vows were written in stone, so they could not be erased and changed. Cherubim were place on the top, as they guarded the Covenant, just like Yahweh set them to guard the entrance to Eden [Jebus] and the path to the tree of life [eternal salvation].

Yahweh rested between the Cherubim, in the same way that Yahweh rested on David when the Covenant was written on the walls of his heart and soul, when David became an Ark of Israel.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the true Christians of Ephesus, saying "Remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” —a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands."

While that gives the impression that Paul converted only Gentiles in Ephesus [and that may or may not be true], his saying "at one time you were all Gentiles at birth" has the effect of meaning Jews could also included ... because the first week of their baby male lives they were "uncircumcised." That is because everyone is born "uncircumcised."

Everything Paul wrote ater that statement of truth was then followed by the parallel thing to remember, which was everyone was "at one time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world."

That must be seen as Paul equating a soul that has not married Yahweh to an uncircumcised Gentile, which matters not what "flesh alterations have been made by human hands." A soul is not made of flesh.

Being "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel" - when Paul never knew a nation named "Israel" - refers to how all souls born are "foreigners" of Yahweh, needing to become "franchises" that reflected where "He Retains God" [the meaning of "Israel"].

It is the marriage of the soul to Yahweh that transforms the body of flesh into a tabernacle that covers the Ark that one's soul becomes. Thus, Paul wrote, "In [Yahweh's Spirit resurrecting the soul of Jesus to overtake one's body of flesh] the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God."

One who is a dwelling place for Yahweh is a Saint.

A Saint is not employed by an organization that owns buildings, as that is a hired hand.

A Saint does not go to one building, week after week, expecting the lost sheep to gather together there, only to be fed straw.

A Saint stays on the move. The seekers will always recognize one and rush to gather together around one.

A Saint will feel compassion for the seekers who have been scattered and lost; and, a saint will teach them how to become saints too.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” Yahweh said.

I think I see the bus coming. So, I’ll end here. I hope your travel goes smoothly.

Until next Sunday. May Yahweh shine His light upon your souls.