Child Psychologist, Dr. David Heller, begins his book Talking To Your Child About God (New York: Doubleday, 1987), by quoting a prayer. It’s a very simple yet profound prayer, written by a ten-year-old named Walt. Listen in carefully: “Dear God, I love you more than anybody else that I do not know.” (Please read this little prayer again.) I find the confusion in this prayer to be very telling of the increasing questioning in our time. By this, I mean to say there is an ever-increasing sense of separation that we are experiencing in our lives – not only geographically and physically (as families are more and more scattered to the far-flung corners of the map), but especially emotionally and spiritually (as depression and spiritual apathy are ever on the rise). And so we are searching or questing for wholeness, connectedness, oneness. People are sensing a great need for God but don’t know how to connect, or better yet, be connected.
So how does this relate to the Gospel text for this coming weekend? Listen to Jesus’ Word for you:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow [are connected] to me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30; RSV. Emphasis added.)
“But how do I know that I’m of this family of God, one of Jesus’ sheep?” You’re hearing it right now! “My sheep hear my voice,” says Jesus. And this fact is all the more reinforced for you when you gather in worship – with God’s Word and Sacrament at the center of it all, addressing you by name – with the whole woolly lot of the other members of Christ’s flock. “And what of the last verse … where Jesus says, ‘I and [God] the Father are one’” (John 10:30)? What does that have to do with me?” you might ask. Everything! ... On this upcoming Mother’s Day Weekend, listen in again to the words of a child, from another of Dr. David Heller’s books. From a little girl named Lori, age 7. “As a little child shall lead us” (Isaiah 11:6).
“Dear God” [writes Lori]: “I know that Jesus is my friend. Since he’s your friend [Son] that makes us friends too. Right? Let’s get together and play this afternoon. You can bring all the toys you have and I’ll bring mine.” (David Heller; Children’s Letters To God, p.22. Emphasis added.)
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is calling you to gather with the rest of the flock this weekend at worship, even if … no especially if … we’re feeling “Baaaaad.”