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Sunday, June 2, 2013
Today’s Reading | John 10:7–17
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go 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. 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. (NRSV)
“I am the Good Shepherd”
I wonder what image pops into your mind when you hear these words of Jesus. Perhaps you immediately go to the Twenty-Third Psalm and see green pastures and still waters, dark valleys and overflowing cups. Some people may be taken to their Sunday School class or Grandma’s parlor, where there hangs a picture of a gaunt, European-featured Jesus, bathed in light, dressed in a long robe, with a shepherd’s crook and a lamb on his shoulder.
Shepherds really are not those gentle, rather soft characters carrying tiny lambs around. They are rugged individuals dressed in jeans and overalls, roaming hills with dogs, either on foot or perhaps in a four-wheeler. And the sheep they tend are not the cute little lambs we see at the petting zoo but unruly, frightened, kind of stupid animals with a herd mentality and a peculiar habit of running in every direction except the one required of them.
It’s hard work being a shepherd and taking on the responsibility for such creatures—work so hard that it sometimes takes the life out of you. Thanks be to God.
My Christ, my shield, my encircler, each day, each night, each light, each dark, be near me, uphold me, my treasure, my triumph. Amen.
Written by Calum I. MacLeod, Executive Associate Pastor and Head of Staff
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