In the echo of tax transparency and all the machinations of the Panama Papers fall out (just a thought, there are more firms than just this Panama one doing what they did, aren’t there… just think how many might be involved?!) we come this week to I AM the Good Shepherd.
It’s fitting… again(!)… that the bible passage speaks into this week’s world. Why are we so surprised by that? Anyway, in this passage there is a fabulously misunderstood line: I have come that you might have life and life in abundance. Okay, so our contemporary world goes heavily into abundance: a new iPad, a new bank account, a new car, house, holiday etc. You can buy abundance in choosing the right things to buy.
But of a problem here. David Lose, an American preacher makes the point that you only fall of these schemes if you imagine you are insufficient and you aren’t good enough. Pah! If you are finding nice tax havens in order to shore up your income in order to feel better about yourself and that you are worth something (and it usually it about yourself and keeping more then you probably need for your own schemes) then you must have this feeling you are already insufficient or not good enough and lets face it, we all feel that at times, most of the time perhaps. We’re taught to feel that from school onwards (though our education system is trying to rebalance that somewhat). But the good news is: we are of worth, we are enough.
in fact Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down his life for his sheep and in so doing says: you are enough. You are so valuable, so amazing, so magnificent I am prepared to lay down my life. Tax schemes don’t do that. They do the opposite. You lay down your life for them because you get trapped into believing you are never worth enough and always want more. Not with Jesus. He turns the coin over and says: You are enough. Now go and live in that abundant grace, love, truth, peace, hope, justice...
So hymns: something for Sunday please and a way of reading this passage that helps engage people. Suggestions please.