Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sheep Stealing

Sheep are both smart and dumb. They let themselves be herded around by humans and border collies, and they tend to wander if they are not watched. Sheep are not particularly cuddly although I remember one darling newborn that a child brought to church in Coal Mine, Arizona. The boy held him like he was a younger sibling and all the kids fought to take turns holding the little fuzz ball. Sheep are part of the family in some places and the furthest thing from one's mind in others. And yet God likens us to sheep, and Jesus as the good shepherd.

"I am the good shepherd. The Good shepherd gives his life for the sheep." John 10:11

Jesus has been set upon by religious leaders of his day to explain himself for providing healing on the sabbath and other horrible violations of the law. They haven't listened to reason, but they might indeed listen to stories. These stories, in our time might seem sweet and pastoral, but they are actually very focused pictures of the role of Jesus in the world. They get the image of sheep, shepherd and lamb for the slaughter. It was their stock and trade, their best known commodity and their righteous obligations. Jesus tells them that he's caregiver of all and the offering for all. The Good Shepherd who give his life for the sheep, not some hireling, or some casual relative, but the one who owns the sheep and give his life for them. For the folks hearing this, it a very bold statement, both political and religious.

Today, on this first day of April, I want to know again what it means to be cared for by the Good Shepherd. There is nothing I have to do to earn God's love and care for me. God has promised, in Jesus, to not only watch over and guide me, but to offer life for mine. I want to live today like a trusting sheep, grazing in the pasture in safety and comfort, knowing my savior in on guard. I too often worry and plan. Today, I want to be relax and walk through the pasture, practicing confidence in God's grace and protection. May we all have the courage today to be the sheep and not try to be the shepherd. May we be wise on this April Fool's Day, trusting in the good graces of Jesus who offered his all that we might live.

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