I have been thinking a lot this past week about the Good Shepherd who is, paradoxically, the Lamb who was slain. In this past Sunday's sermon and in my sermon at Monday's Eucharist at the nursing home, I spoke about my own need for the Good Shepherd's leading. I am "prone to wander" and need each day to be drawn back to the One who in love claimed me when I was baptized 60 years ago and who has claimed me over and over again during the decades since then.
I have also been thinking about the ongoing conflicts within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and wondering about the connection between those conflicts and our relationship with the Good Shepherd. I have been coming to the sad conclusion that the Anglican Communion will break apart even further in the next few years. Churches in which I have friends will no longer be in communion with the Episcopal Church and I suspect that I would not be welcomed there as I was in the past. On all sides of the conflicts there are people who are convinced that they are following the leading of the Good Shepherd. I am clearly one of those people, but I have to admit that I could be wrong. Even though I don't think it is likely that the Communion can avoid schism, I still am hopeful about the future of Anglicanism.
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." (John 10:16) We have usually heard these words in the light of the uniting Jews and Gentiles in the Body of Christ or as a sign of hope for the overcoming of the divisions between Christian denominations. However, it can also be a reminder that those who belong to different Anglican folds will be brought in by the Good Shepherd and united in one flock. If we remain hopeful that Methodist and Baptist and Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians will be united in one flock, how much more can we hope for the uniting of now-divided Anglicans in one flock.