Bread – Piper

March 25, 2015


Readings for Wednesday, March 25, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 25:30-38; Rom. 10:14-21; John 10:1-18; Psalms 119:145-176, 128-130

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There is an old fairy tale called the Pied Piper. The net result of the story was that the Pied Piper played his flute and a bunch of children followed him and disappeared (probably died). It is because of our readings today that I thought of the Pied Piper.

There are many warnings in many writings telling us not to follow the siren song, the will-o-the-wisp, the call which is pleasant to our ears but death to our souls, the Pied Piper of worldly wealth, good health, position, power, importance to our neighbors. We know we should not follow these Pied Pipers, but we do anyway.

Why? Because, I think, it seems good to us. The music is pleasant, the siren song is enchanting, the allure of peace, health, and prosperity is appealing to our egos, our pride, and the call of those people who reflect those “it is better over here” philosophies has the sound of truth (without the reality of truth).

It is because of this that many people, many shepherds, take the approach of dressing up Christianity like the music of the Pied Piper. “Come join Jesus so that there may be peace on earth.” “Come relate to Jesus so that you will have prosperity and can drive that brand new car.” “Come be with Jesus so that you can associate with the “good people.”” “Come talk to Jesus so that you can can leap tall buildings.” And so forth.

Our reading from Romans today tells us to be a Piper for Christ … to pronounce the gospel because “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching…” Rom. 10:14 But what is that gospel? Is it a gospel of better living through Christ, be all you can be through Christ, ride the wave of Christ’s good will toward man, jump on the bandwagon of belief, buy the true bread of prosperity? Is this the gospel?

We are not Pipers for Christ because we do not attract people to Christ through our wiles and wares. We are Proclaimers for Christ, tellers of the message of sin, death, resurrection, and life eternal through Him. We are actually purveyors of an unattractive message – sin, repentance, faith, perseverance, intercession, death to selves, allegiance to Christ, obedience to God’s Word, eternal life.

We may preach and the people may listen and respond, but is it because we are Pipers or Proclaimers? Or is it neither? Our proclamation of Christ is foolishness to the world, to those who have not been chosen by God to hear the Word and respond to it. If there is a response, it is not because we attracted them ourselves, but because God has let us participate in the miracle of new birth in Christ, in His work and not ours.

The Piper pipes and those of the world follow because they are attracted by the music. The Proclaimer proclaims and those chosen by God follow because God’s work as brought them to belief and into the kingdom of God.

We have a job to do today. It is not to make ourselves into attractive people so that people will be attracted to Christ. It is to proclaim God’s message that there is a way to eternal life through Jesus Christ, beginning with seeing ourselves as the sinful creatures we are, deserving nothing but ready to receive God’s mercy, repentant toward ourselves so that we turn to God’s way of doing things. This is not an attractive message, because most people are more thoughtful about where to have lunch than where to spend eternity.

Jesus says today that “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

There are two characters in this reading, Jesus and the sheep. Who are we in Christ? Sheep. We are not the shepherd and we are not even the staff advisor to the shepherd. We are the sheep who need Christ, we are the sheep who want Christ, we are the sheep who love Christ, we are the sheep who lay down in His shelter, we are the sheep to be led by Him into eternity, and we are the sheep for whom He died.

Are we a Piper for Christ? I hope not because I do not want people to come to Christ because they are following me, but because they are following Him. The Piper was not a good shepherd. But Christ is. Follow Him.

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© 2015 GBF

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