"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away - and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care 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. I have other sheep that do not belong to 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 in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father." John 10:10-18
My granddaughter Lilly at 2 1/2, sings Tender Shepherd from Peter Pan with all the words and right in tune. While I was back east, I tried to record it, over and over again, but she got more silly and goofy each time. We got laughing so much we could not continue. Later, we did record her. I realized that when we were trying to record she was stalling the whole process so she did not have to go to sleep. She knew that song meant bedtime and lights out were coming soon. Even when we do the best for our children and grandchildren, we need a loving an tender shepherd to protect and care for us and our loved ones when the lights go out and when we cannot be around.
Jesus uses a familiar image of sheep and shepherd to bring home some clarity on his role. He was being challenged by the religious leaders and responded with images that the people could understand. He moved from theological jargon to real, daily images - the sights, sounds and images of real lived life. The son of God as one who is willing to lay down his life, as one who will do everything to protect the vulnerable, needy and the wandering ones. We are invited to hear that God loves us so much that we are tenderly cared for day and night. God is in the midst of our real gritty, messy lives, right there in the middle of our bedtime routines and our daily struggles. God is always bringing us back home.
Today I ask God to help me listen to the tender voice of our loving shepherd in every moment and every circumstance today. I pray that we may live as beloved children, never fearing for the darkness of night, but trusting that we are loved and cared for in every moment. May we be fearless and trusting as children, sharing God's love where ever we go this day and always.