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 10:14-17
There are a variety of ways to be a shepherd. You can work with with dogs, use and ATV,or herd them alone. These many ways are often defined by culture, the land and how one was taught. The same holds true for clergy. We come in all shapes and sizes and use all sorts of techniques and tools to help lead our people.
Jesus tells the people that he is the good shepherd, the one who will lay down his life for his sheep. Within the culture and the time, that declaration meant a great deal. It stood for a type of shepherding that was personal and total, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for those in his care. Sheep aren't the brightest of animals and need a good deal of direction and guidance. They get lost easily -just like us. And God in Christ is making an absolute commitment to us all. More than any pastor or priest can do, the savoir of the world is committing complete faithfulness to each and every one of us. We might wander, but we will be brought home.
Today I want to give thanks for all of the pastors and shepherds I have known who have kept me safe from my own wanderings. May we all give thanks for those who show us by their faithfulness the steadfast love of God. May we have confidence that no matter how off course we might wander, God will seek us out and find us. No matter what challenges and obstacles keep us from the others, may we always cry out to God, in the sure confidence that the good shepherd is with us this day.