Dear Friends,

In John 10, Jesus declares, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

How would you fill in the blank? Life is ___________

Forrest Gump filled it in this way: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Author F. Scott Peck began his best selling book, “The Road Less Traveled,” by writing, “Life is difficult.” A time-share salesman said it this way as he tried to seal the deal, “Life is not a dress rehearsal, you only get to live it once.” Others would say that life is what you make it or that life depends on the hand that gets dealt to you or that life is the way the ball happens to bounce or to quote a North Dakota childhood friend, life is however the cookie happens to crumble!

Pleasure seekers among us would say that true abundance is in money and all of the happiness money can buy. Workaholics among us would say that true satisfaction is in working hard and achieving all kinds of success. The party crowd would focus on the good times that come along with drinking, status seekers would fix their eyes on climbing the social ladder, busy bees would argue that true abundance is in staying active and getting our to do lists done.

In contrast to all of that, Jesus would teach us today that the truly abundant life is in fact to be in the sheepfold under the protective care of the Good Shepherd, it is for Him to be calling us by name, it is for us to be listening to his voice and to be gathered into his flock and to be made to lie down in green pastures and to be led beside still waters.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Resurrection abundance is to develop an immunity to the enemies of the faith. There’s a lot of talk about herd immunity in these days of CoVid 19. Herd immunity is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease through vaccination and/or prior illness to make its spread from person to person unlikely.

In other words, where herd immunity exists, when lots of people in an area are vaccinated or have already been infected with a disease, fewer people get sick, and fewer germs are able to spread from person to person. The CDC adds that even people who are not vaccinated, like newborn babies and individuals with chronic illnesses, have some level of protection because the disease can’t spread within the community. Of course, since there is no vaccine for Covid-19 yet, the only option is recovery, which means letting the majority of people catch the virus at some point.

Today I invite you to think of our life together in the Church as developing a herd immunity to the enemies of our faith. In Holy Baptism, the sign of the cross is placed on our foreheads and upon our hearts, and the forgiveness of sins is delivered into our souls. Acts 2:38 — be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. In Baptism, we are rescued from eternal death and the power of the devil himself. Colossians 1, He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption. In Baptism, we are born again into the family of God. Peter writes, Baptism, which corresponds to the waters of Noah’s flood, now saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The kingdom of God is like thousands of infants in churches large and small across the globe baptized into the Name of the Triune God. A type of herd immunity is built up over time, as moms and dads teach them that Jesus loves them, their grandmas and their grandpas teach them that in every one of their days they can flee for refuge to God who is their very present help in trouble, their pastors and teachers catechize them and guide them into the truths of Scripture, and as the years go on, they know there is safety in the sanctuary of their home churches, they believe with all of their hearts that with God’s help there is a way through every one of their trials, they travel through all the seasons of Lent and Easter year after year holding onto the promise that their Good Shepherd is following them around with goodness and mercy, they hold onto the truth that none of their mistakes are so costly that they haven’t already been paid for, they hold onto the truth that by the wounds of their Risen Savior, they have been healed.

Pastor Larry Griffin is the interim pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Waseca.

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