Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Life of an Evangelist

I don't usually pay attention to the headings above sections in my bible. In fact, whenever I'm copying a passage for a handout or to post on a blog, I intentionally uncheck the box that would include the headings. The biblical authors didn't even have chapter or verse numbers--much less headings--so I tend to ignore them. But this Sunday's gospel lesson (Matthew 25:31-46) comes at an interesting point in the gospel, and it's worth noting the heading that follows.

In the online, free ESV bible (although not an officially accepted translation in the Episcopal Church thanks to some shenanigans at the last General Convention still a great resource for teachers and preachers and others who want online access to the bible) the heading that begins Matthew 26 is "The Plot to Kill Jesus." Regardless of the heading in your version, the end of Matthew 25 marks a change in the narrative. From here on out, the passion scenes unfold. Before we get to the end of chapter 26, we will have the Last Supper, the betrayal, arrest, and conviction of Jesus, and Peter's denial. That means that Matthew 25 is the last thing that Jesus has to say to his disciples before things start unraveling. And I'm fascinated that Matthew, of all the gospel writers, concludes Jesus' pre-passion ministry with these words.

What is the basis for judgment in this Sunday's gospel lesson? The sheep and the goats are separated based on how they took care of one another. In this depiction of the final judgment, Jesus declares that the ones who have ministered to those in need have done so to him and that the ones who have neglected those in need have likewise neglected him. In other words, the last teaching Jesus gives to his followers before our focus turns to the cross is on taking care of one another. It's not about repentance. It's not about belief. It's not about holding fast to his teachings. It's not about being faithful in the moment of persecution. It's about remembering to visit those who are sick and in prison, of feeding those who are hungry, and of tending to those in need.

One time a minister asked me to summarize the Christian faith in 30 seconds. Caught off-guard, I bounced around through a host of ideas that flooded into my head. Although I didn't use any intelligent-sounding words, my answer was a little bit incarnation, a little bit crucifixion, a little bit resurrection, plus some ethics and eschatology mixed in. In other words, I didn't know what to say. After letting me flounder for a little bit, he put it this way: if you came upon a car accident and the driver in one of the cars was about to die and he asked you what it means to be a Christian, what would you say? Good question. I'm still wrestling with it today.

I have a friend who has spent most of his life working as an evangelist. He has travelled around the world to tell people about Jesus Christ. God has used him to bring the good news to thousands and thousands of people. And then, one day, he was on his way back from an overseas mission, and he read Matthew 25. Everything changed. It's his story--not mine--so I cannot tell it with any authenticity, but, when listening to him tell of the encounter, I heard him say that God showed him that salvation was needed right here in his home town--that he didn't need to travel all the way across the globe to tell people about Jesus. Instead, his work as an evangelist could be as immediate as giving food to those who are hungry and a drink to those who thirst. What does it mean to bring salvation to God's people? Maybe we should take Jesus' depiction of the final judgment seriously.

What do you say to the driver in the car accident--that Jesus died for his sins and that by confessing and believing in him he can go to heaven? Perhaps. I could make a strong argument that that is the most important thing to say in that moment. But Matthew 25 invites me to approach that hypothetical encounter--and all the real-life encounters I have every day--very differently. Maybe the right thing to do is to say that God loves you and so do I, and, because of that, I want to do anything I can to make you comfortable in this moment--to hold your hand, to wipe away your tears, to caress your head, and shush you comfortably into death's sleep.

We are called to share the good news. But what does that look like in the world we live in? Where are we called to carry God's saving love? Is it far away to those who have never heard of Jesus? Or is it down the street where people are hungry and thirsty and naked and sick and in prison?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pairing Wine with Relationships

I have heard two competing philosophies for how to cook with wine. Some say that the wine should be “good enough to drink” if you’re going to cook with it. Others say that using even a decent wine in a dish is a waste. Which is it? Should you splash the $3 bottle into the pot roast, or should you put at least $12 of wine in there?

In today’s OT reading in the Daily Office (Malachi 1:1,6-14), we encounter some priests who faced a similar dilemma. As part of the religious life of Israel, priests would offer sacrifice in the temple every day. In the Law of Moses, God requires that animals with no spot or blemish be presented for the sacrifice, but the priests had been offering “blind animals” and “those that are lame or sick.” Finally, God had had enough of it, and he used the prophet Malachi to cry against these underhanded practices. But why was that so wrong?

God doesn’t need the sacrifices. He makes that clear in Psalm 50:12-13, declaring, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” In other words, God doesn’t actually consume the sacrifice. So why does it matter? Wouldn’t God want his people to enjoy the choice kid or calf instead of sacrificing it and burning it on the altar where no one would be able to enjoy it? Why wouldn’t God say, “Look, just show up and give me something. I’ll take whatever is left over. You can have the first portion. Just don’t forget to bring me something?”

Of course, that isn’t what God says. God demands our very best. And it’s not because God needs anything. It’s because we need to give it to him.

What happens when we get in the habit of giving to God only what is left over? What happens when we get to the end of our week and look for enough time to go to church? What happens when we wait until all the bills have been paid and try to find enough money for a tithe? What happens when we finish using our emotional energy on work and family and friends before asking whether we have enough reserves in our spiritual tank to direct some energy to our relationship with God? What happens? Our faith falls apart.

God asks for the very best because God knows that our faith suffers when we give him what is left over. Our offerings shape our relationship with God. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” What do you give to God? No, we don’t travel to the temple with an animal sacrifice in hand, but we do encounter God every day. What are we giving him? Is it the 30-second prayer in the car on the way to work? Or are we giving him our very best?

So back to the wine. Pretend you’re making dinner, and the recipe calls for red wine. You have two options—the $3 bottle and the $12 bottle. Which one do you use? Does it depend on who is coming over for dinner? If it were your boss, which bottle would you use? If it were the President of the United States, which one would you use? If it were a celebrity or a mentor or a rich philanthropist, which one? What if God himself were coming over for dinner? Would you splurge just a little bit, or would you still give him the dregs?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Son of Man and the Throne of Glory

Let me start by saying that I am a reluctant observer of the liturgical feast known as "Christ the King." Every year, on the last Sunday of the liturgical cycle, we stop to celebrate the kingship of Christ. Originally scheduled for the Sunday before All Saints' Day, this practice was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in the wake of the Great War, which had ravaged Europe and had resulted largely from competing versions of nationalism.

Now that it has been moved to its present place on the calendar, on this coming Sunday lots of churches--Protestant and Catholic--will be asking the question "Who is our real king?" as the feast implicitly asks. "Christ is our true king," the church replies. I am admittedly slow to pick up on newfangled liturgical inventions, but this one is starting to grow on me. Here's why.

In my ministry as a parish priest, one of the biggest challenges I face is getting people (including myself) to realize that God's love is a whole lot bigger than we think it is. When salvation comes, it will be far more extensive than we can imagine. When God's victory is achieved, it will be much further reaching than we expected. As this Sunday's gospel lesson (Matthew 25:31-46) puts it, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory..." the result is a lot bigger than we thought it would be, and that has the potential to catch up with us in a big, scary way.

What does it mean for the Son of Man to come and sit on his throne? In much of scripture, the Son of Man is an image of judgment. It's is the figure used to express the eschatological fulfillment of creation. For the most part (there are exceptions in Ezekiel for example), biblical authors don't harken to the "Son of Man" unless they want to convey God bringing things to their completion. That means that the image of the coming of the Son of Man that Jesus uses in Matthew 25 reminds his hearers of what things are going to be like when God sets everything right. And what that means depends on whom you ask.

If you're part of God's faithful poor, salvation may mean new riches. If you're part of God's faithful oppressed, salvation likely has to do with being set free from oppression. If you identify with the outcast, salvation probably involves you being offered a seat at God's banquet table. Salvation, we trust, is the setting right of all that is wrong. That means the wicked are brought down from their lofty heights and the poor are raised up. For God's people, that's all-around good news...unless it isn't.

Jesus teases us with the image of the Son of Man. By using it, he gets our hopes up. All of God's faithful people look forward to the coming of the Son of Man because it means that finally everything that is wrong with life will be set right. But, just as soon as he gets our hopes up, he dashes them to pieces with a damning warning: "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." It's the surprise that gets us. We thought the coming of the Son of Man meant our redemption, but those of us who thought we were God's favorites might just discover that our hardheartedness has led to our exclusion from the kingdom. Those of us who were waiting on God's victory discover that by caring less about the misfortunes of others than about our own plight we have actually become the oppressors whom the Son of Man comes to bring down from their lofty seats. It's the old bait-and-switch, only we're the ones left holding the goat.

So where is our hope? Jesus came to show the world that God's preference is for the marginalized. Yes, that means that God cares for sinners like you and me, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that salvation is just for us. God's love is always bigger than we think it is. God's plan is never just about us. When all things are made right--when the Son of Man comes to sit on his glorious throne--everything will be turned on its head. If we are too worried about our place at the bottom of the pile now and thus miss those we're already stepping on, we might miss our chance to be a part of that reversal of fortunes. May the work that we do be about turning the world on its head--not just then but also now.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Giving Some Water to Jesus

In a Monday-morning bible study, we have been reading the story of Abraham. (If you haven’t gone back to read it in a while, I highly recommend it. There’s a lot more to it than “look at the stars of heaven” and “take your son Isaac and sacrifice him.”) There are several moments in the Abraham story when heavenly visitors pay a call on earthly attendants and the hosts bend over backwards to welcome them. For example, when the three men come to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre, he goes to great lengths to wait on them personally, serving them his very best. We’ve discussed the importance of hospitality in a nomadic culture—it could mean the difference between life and death—but I’m still amazed at how elaborate the expression of welcome was.

To quote Hebrews 13:2, there’s a sense, I think, of “entertaining angels unawares” that fills out this Sunday’s gospel lesson (Matthew 25:31-46).  In it, Jesus describes the last judgment in terms of separating the sheep and goats along terms of whether they provided for those in need. Those who gave food, drink, clothing, welcome, and care to those in need were, in fact, doing it to their Lord without even realizing it. Likewise, to their surprise and horror, those who denied assistance to those in need were, in fact, denying the same to their Lord. “When did we see you in need and fail to help?” they ask as they are being sent to the place of torment. Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” On the surface, it’s pretty scary.

People come into our office all the time asking for assistance. Sometimes it’s as easy as a cup of coffee or a warm place to sit for a few minutes. More often, though, it’s utility bills and extended-stay motel costs. Every once in a while, Matthew 25 or Hebrews 13 comes to mind, and I feel this irresistible urge to ask them, “Excuse me, ma’am, but, by any chance, are you Jesus?” It’s silly, I know. But this shallow reading of Jesus’ sharp words sticks with me.

Jesus isn’t hiding behind the faces of those in need. When we get to the day of judgment, Jesus isn’t going to say, “Do you remember that 35-year-old Hispanic man who came by asking for some gas in his car on February 13, 2012? Well, that was me. You didn’t help him out, and now you’re going to hell.” Of course not. That’s not how it works—because this passage is a lot bigger than that.

Instead of hearing these words of Jesus as a warning, I’d like to hear them as an invitation. Would you like to give your Lord and Savior a cup of water on a hot August day? Would you take delight in sharing a meal with Jesus? If you heard that Jesus were being held in the County Jail, wouldn’t you drop everything to run and go see him? Well, guess what. That’s the invitation Jesus is offering. Any of us would celebrate the opportunity to minister to the needs of our Lord. And Jesus tells us that by ministering to the needs of each other we are doing exactly that.

Maybe tomorrow’s post will talk about judgment. Maybe at some point this week I’ll get around to the question of what happens if we fail to help those in need. For today, though, I’m more interested in the fact that there’s no difference between helping someone out in Jesus’ name and helping out Jesus himself. How might that shape my next encounter with someone in need?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What Sort of God Do We Worship?

November 16, 2014 – The 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 28A
© 2014 Evan D. Garner

Audio of this sermon can be heard here.

There is a certain, unspoken exchange of trust and worry and confidence and fear that happens when a boss hands his young protégé the keys to his car and says, “Here, you drive.” Has that ever happened to you? Did you ever climb behind the wheel of your boss’ car while he buckled into the passenger seat and pretended not to notice every single thing you did? Back when I worked for Robert Wisnewski in Montgomery, it happened a lot, and it always seemed to happen at the worst possible moments.

One Tuesday, we drove over to Augusta, Georgia, to watch a practice round at the Masters. We hit the road right after the 7am service, stayed all day, and then headed home in the darkness. He drove over in the daylight, but, now that it was night and we were both exhausted, he handed me the keys and said, “Your turn.” I think he fell asleep before we even made it to the interstate. As fatigue set in, I couldn’t decide whether I should turn on the radio and risk waking him up or leave it off and risk joining him in a potentially fatal slumber.

Another time in May, we drove up to Sewanee for the seminary’s graduation. It was a wonderful celebration hardly dampened by the steady rain that started to fall as the ceremony ended. As we retreated toward his car, Robert tossed me the keys, not even saying a word. I don’t know how often you drive down the mountain from Sewanee in the rain and fog, but doing so in your boss’ car is not fun. I strangled the life out of the steering wheel as I leaned forward in my seat, straining to see what was in front of the car. All of the sudden, a huge tractor-trailer tire appeared directly in front of us. “Hold on,” I cried, as I tapped the brakes, checked the mirrors, and swerved into the adjacent lane. Robert took a sharp breath and uttered a doubtful groan, but the tires held onto the pavement, and we continued our journey back home—me sweating bullets and him just smiling at the whole situation.

What is it like when someone really important gives you something of great value and says, “Here you go: it’s your turn?” What happens when someone entrusts you with something of great worth and, in so doing, not only hands over the asset itself but also puts the whole relationship that the asset represents into your hands? Well, it kind of depends on what kind of boss you have. Is your boss the kind of person who, if you crashed his car into oblivion, would fire you on the spot? Or is he the kind of boss who would wrap his arms around you and say, “Are you ok?”  

Jesus said, “[The kingdom of heaven] is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them.” To the first, he gave five talents; to the second, he gave two talents; and, to the last, he gave one talent—to each according to his ability. We know what happened next. Most of us, even before we heard the gospel lesson this morning, knew what happened next. The first slave doubled the money he was given, and, when his master returned to settle accounts, he produced the ten talents, and he was invited to enter into the joy of his master. The second did likewise, doubling the investment, and, after producing the four talents, he, too, was invited to enter into his master’s joy.

And then there was the third slave. He, of course, was afraid of what would happen if he lost what his master had given to him. He knew his master to be a harsh man, so he went and buried the talent in the ground. I like to imagine that fearful slave walking past that spot nonchalantly every single day, casually glancing over his shoulder to see if anyone was following him, checking to be sure that the dirt above the buried treasure had not been disturbed. And, finally, when the master returned, the third slave handed him the one, dirt-smeared talent, relieved that no one had dug it up when he wasn’t looking. He was delighted merely not to have lost his master’s money. But was his master satisfied? Not in the least.

Before we join Jesus in condemning the “wicked and lazy slave,” I think it’s worth stopping for a moment to consider just how much money had been entrusted to each of them. A talent was a measure of weight used for precious metals, and one talent equaled fifty-seven pounds of silver, which was enough money to pay a skilled laborer for nine years’ worth of work. If you paid a craftsman twenty dollars an hour for nine years, it would cost you around $375,000. So, when the master handed over these talents, he wasn’t just giving the slaves the keys to his car. He was giving them hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of treasure. If your boss handed you $400,000 and said, “I’ll be back in a few years; see what you can do with this,” how would it make you feel?

Again, I guess it all depends on what kind of boss you have—or at least on what kind of boss you think you have. Let me ask you this: who do you think is more likely to crash—the guy who is terrified that his boss will kill him if he crashes his car or the guy who knows that his boss will take care of him no matter what happens? And might it be possible that they have the same boss?

This parable about the kingdom isn’t a story about a tyrannical God who punishes those who fail to earn him a return on his investment. It’s a story about how you and I can be so overwhelmed by fear that we scare ourselves right out of God’s kingdom. God entrusts us with an incredible gift—more precious than we can even imagine. What will we do with that gift? What will we do with the life that we are given? Will we take that gift and risk what we have in order that it might multiply? Or will we bury ourselves in the ground because we are afraid of what might happen if we mess up?

It all depends on what kind of God we worship—on what sort of master we think is in charge of our lives. You know, looking around at the images of God and Christianity that pervade our culture, it would be easy to go through each day worried that God was out to get you. If you drive south on I-65, you can see a billboard with the image of a cardiac sinus rhythm going to a flat line and the words, “Someday you will meet God,” written on it. How is that supposed to make you feel? Like God loves you? If you listen to any of the preachers on the radio or watch any of them on television, what sort of God do they portray? It’s not the kind of God I want to meet when I die. Nor is it the kind of God whom Jesus came to earth to show the world all about. No wonder the world is running away from Christianity! Instead of showing the world God’s unconditional love, Christians have spent the last seventy years telling the world that it had better get its act together before the master returns.
But that isn’t the God I know, and it’s not the God of our faith. My God is the kind of God who says, “I will love you no matter what.” Our God is the kind of God who takes the very worst that humanity can give him—the cross upon which we killed his son—and turns it into new life by raising Jesus from the dead. That’s the kind of God who says, “No matter how badly you screw this up, I will always love you.” How can we be afraid of a God like that?
Jesus Christ came to set us free from everything that separates us from God—from our sin, from our mistakes, and especially our fear. That is the good news that we have to offer the world. That is the real gift that God has given us. But what will we do with that gift? Will we trust that God will love us no matter what? Or will we allow fear to take that treasure away from us? Fear is the only thing that threatens to isolate us from God’s kingdom. Fear is the only thing that can keep us from celebrating all that our gracious God wants to bestow upon us. Will we live in fear of failure because we doubt that God will still love us when we mess everything up? Or will we believe that God’s love is bigger than any mistake we could ever make? Amen.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prodigal Son or Fearful Slave?

The kingdom of God is like a lot of things. It’s like a mustard seed. It’s like a woman who searches and finds a lost coin. It’s like a farmer who sowed seed on the ground. None of these tells the whole story. Parables give us glimpses of what the underlying identity is. We need to “hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” all of them before we consider ourselves knowledgeable of God’s kingdom.

As I wake up this morning and read the Daily Office and the lessons for the upcoming Sunday, I encounter two very contrasting images of the kingdom.

First, in Luke 15:1-2, 11-32, Jesus likens the kingdom to a man who had two sons. One came and demanded his share of the inheritance and then squandered it in dissolute living. We know his story as that of the prodigal son. He came to his senses, returned to his father to apologize and beg to be treated even as a slave, but the father comes to embrace him and orders that his return be celebrated. That which was lost has been found. The other brother’s refusal to join in the celebration heightens for us the extent to which God welcomes back the estranged sinner. Who does such a thing? God does.

Then, in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus describes the kingdom as like a man who went on a journey and entrusted his property to three slaves. To one he gave five talents, to one two talents, and to another one talent. When the master returned, he found that the first two have made profits of 100%, and they are rewarded. Out of fear, the third hid the talent in the ground and returned it to his master having earned nothing during the span while the master was away, and he is summarily judged by the master as unworthy to share in his company: “So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

So which is it? Is the kingdom like the first image, in which God welcomes back even the most disrespectful sinner? Or is the kingdom like the second image, in which God casts the faithless one out into the outer darkness?

Of course the answer is both. We know that. We might not know exactly how that works, but we know and trust that the kingdom is both of those things…and so much more. So what does that mean for this Sunday’s sermon?

Don’t let the parable of the talents come to represent everything we need to know about God’s kingdom. It isn’t the whole story. But likewise don’t hide behind the parable of the prodigal son and soften the important and true message of judgment that the parable of the talents presents. The kingdom is both. It must be both. As I prepare to preach this Sunday, I feel called not to talk about the “outer darkness” as the damnation that God reserves for “wicked and lazy” sinners like me. That seems to make the parable of the talents into a perfect image of the kingdom, which it was never designed to be. Instead, the questions isn’t one of “heaven or hell.” It’s one of relationship. What does it mean to be in relationship with God?

God is like the father to the prodigal son. When we come to our senses and return to God seeking mercy, we discover a God who is eager to wrap his loving arms around us. And God is like the master of the wicked and lazy slave. When we hide the gifts he has given us because we are afraid of him, we will never discover the God who is gracious and loving—instead we find ourselves in the outer darkness. The issue isn’t one of God’s posture or attitude. God is always gracious; God is always loving. The issue is whether we can see and know and feel his love to the very core of our soul. Fear is the single greatest impediment to our ability to know God’s love. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Be Fed and Feed Others

The following is a sermon preached on the Feast of Charles Simeon, 12 November 2014. The lessons appointed for this day can be found here.

Audio can be heard here.

“When they had finished breakfast…”

It had been long night, and morning was slow to arrive. Peter, unable to think of anything except the strange and tragic and perhaps wonderful events of the previous days, said to his companions, “I’m going fishing,” and they replied, “We will go with you.” They labored in the boat all night, but, as is so often the case when our minds are weighed down with distraction, their efforts were fruitless. They caught nothing, and, as the dawn was breaking they began to head back to shore.

As they approached, they saw a man on the beach. He looked out at them and said, “Children, do you have any fish?” After they told him of their unsuccessful night, he invited them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. When they did, they pulled up more fish than they could bring into the boat—153 of them. When the disciple whom Jesus loved put the pieces together, he declared to Peter, “It is the Lord,” and, upon hearing that wonderful news, Peter grabbed his clothes and jumped into the sea, swimming as fast as he could to embrace the man he loved.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus looked at Simon Peter and asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” The question caught him off guard, and it startled the other disciples, too. Other than Peter, in a tearful confession days earlier, no one had mentioned the scandalous denial. In the only response he could give, Peter looked at Jesus and said, “Yes, Lord: you know that I love you,” and Jesus replied, “Feed my lambs.” A second time, Jesus looked deeply into Peter’s eyes and asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Searching deep within, Peter uttered from his heart, “Yes, Lord: you know that I love you,” to which Jesus responded, “Tend my sheep.” Then, in brutal fashion, fully confronting Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus, the master asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Cut to the quick and hurt by the question and the accusation that came with it, Peter cried back, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” And, finally, Jesus responded, “Feed my sheep.”

When they had finished eating breakfast… This painful yet cleansing exchange took place after a meal—after Jesus had beckoned his disciples to sit down with him and eat the morning meal. And their breakfast followed an exhausting and frustrating night, an unsuccessful fishing trip reflective of their floundering relationship with Jesus. All of their heartache and grief and doubt and worry came with them into that boat, and, out of that place of emptiness, Jesus called them to eat. He fed them. And then he brought Peter’s now-unwavering love into focus, and finally commanded him to feed others.

We are broken. We are fed. We are called to feed others.

Today is the feast of Charles Simeon. Like all undergraduates at the University of Cambridge in the eighteenth century, Simeon was required to attend church on a regular basis and to take Communion at least once a year. That created a crisis of conscience for young Simeon. He was what we would now call an agnostic, and he felt a real personal dishonesty in having to eat the Lord’s Supper without manifesting any real faith in Jesus. So what did he do? As he wrote, “Conscience told me that, if I must go, I must repent and turn to God.” The experience transformed his life. He sought ordination and remained in Cambridge as a clergyman who spent his entire career nurturing undergraduates and inviting them to be fed by faith in Jesus.

We are broken. We are hungry. We are hurting. And we need to be fed before our lives can take shape. How are you being fed? What gives you sustenance? What fills you up to satisfaction? How might God nourish you from weakness into strength, from brokenness into wholeness, from disarray into calmness? In what ways has he already invited you to sit down with him and eat? And will you answer his call to feed his lambs, tend his sheep, and feed his sheep?