Monday, January 3, 2011
Sheep, Sheep and more Sheep
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. John 10:7-17
Sheep have all sorts of literary connotations, all sorts of images from story, fairy tales and pictures that tells us that sheep are not very bright and in need of a shepherd. Recently I discovered a poet in Britain that got a grant for random poetry - she wrote words on the backs of a friends flock of sheep, and wrote down the various different configurations of their formations - very expressive, unique and moving poems. All presented by oblivious sheep. She calls the poems Haik Ewes. Well, sheep do need a shepherd and on their own get into rough places and ridiculous circumstances. Just like us people, who think we know so much more, and don't need a shepherd or direction.
The people who Jesus spoke with knew sheep to be the currency of life in their community. Sheep were clothing and food, livelihood and wealth. The more sheep the more prominent the family. And they understood just how much care and tending they needed. They couldn't have missed that Jesus was telling them of their own need for care and comfort. And that they were prized possessions in the heart of God.
Today, I want to trust God for my leadership and direction each step of the way. I want to act knowing that someone else is in charge, more loving and more compassionate than I could ever be. May we all turn to the great shepherd of the us the sheep for our every breath and step today.