“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
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. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:1-18
Today our daughter, her husband and his brother are here helping us move some items into storage while we are away in Alaska for 18 months. Sometimes the tasks seem overwhelming and often, since I can no longer lift and tote, somewhat frustrating. I like being in charge, and strong and setting my own time and agenda. But not, it is someone else's timing, and I have a new opportunity to learn patience.
Jesus moves beyond the religious and doctrinal wranglings to offering a picture of God's reign - with one flock, one shepherd, people, members of one family, all related by love and service. It is not what we always want to hear, particularly those of us who like to take charge and direct things. Those who can see the big picture have a hard time being one of the flock. And yet, we are offered a depth of relationship in God, which, rather than subjugating people, brings everyone to an even place, a safe pasture, and a wide, welcoming table. We can see the challenge to our authority in this very pastoral description or we can welcome the familiar, tender and arms of a God who wants us all in.
Today, as the dust flies and the boxes and bins move, I ask God to help me be full of thanksgiving for all of God's blessings in my life. For strong young muscles and a willing family. For the beauty of the earth and the firm breeze taking away the lingering dampness. May we all rejoice that we are one flock with one shepherd, a family, diverse and talented, spread far and wide with room enough at the table for us all.