Date: 4/25/2003
Time: 12:46:12 PM

Comment

The Good Shepherd has been done so many times, and I am not sure that a shepherd image works well in today's world. The verse that just jumps out at me and hits me between the eyes is "The Father knows me and I know the Father." The despair of our sin and the hope of our salvation. God knows who we are, in all of our sinfulness. And yet, through Jesus Christ, we can know the Father and discover grace!

OLAS


Date: 5/3/2003
Time: 10:32:30 AM

Comment

10:16 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.

Hans Urs von Balthasar writes:

No way can (Peter) allow himself to think that every religion is equally good — for if someone has simply that love which Christ by his death for all likewise earned for all and offers, as a supernatural reality, at the disposal of all, why should that not suffice for anyone? But no more can Peter harden into the opossite view, for which only those kept within his visible sheepfold have the guarantee of authentic love and so of everlasting salvation. Between these two unacceptable ecclesiologies the gospel of John leaves us and releases us at a hovering mid-point whose fixed place depends uniquely on the Lord. The last word addressed to that servant who is Peter, the last word of the Lord in the gospel, is that waring ... "What is that to you?" <Mysterium Paschale, page 261>

tom in ga


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 7:40:09 AM

Comment

Like our Good Shepherd who holds all people in love, the church is called to lead those who thirst to living waters. At the banquet table set before us, the shepherd who lays down his life for the lost gives himself to us. Here is a great promise: Christ leads us through the shadows and valleys of life. He will neither abandon nor forget us. He is with us, now and forever.

In language that recalls the twenty-third psalm, Jesus describes himself as the shepherd who cares for his sheep. He is willing to die for them, and he is able to overcome death for them.

As the Western world becomes increasingly secular, and as religious diversity takes an ever more prominent place, it becomes more and more difficult to imagine that at any time soon will "every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2.11). But Jesus promises it: "one flock, one shepherd"…one day.

So often pastors are likened to the good shepherd, bishops have shepherd's staves as a sign of office, congregations are referred to as "the flock." But here Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd." It would seem that pastors and bishops, in a sense, merely lead sheep; we are not in the habit of laying down our lives for our parishioners. It may happen on occasion, but not because it is in the letter of call.

Questions and speculation and even affirmations arise about who "the other sheep who are not of this fold" are. Since we do not have more explanation from Jesus, these guesses will continue. A more important lesson for us from Jesus' words is that we ought to maintain an exclusive focus on Christ, who is the good shepherd, and that we as members of the shepherd's flock should not move farther away from Christ by denying those who want to come into the fold. All those who hear and answer the voice of Jesus are called. In hearing God's word, they are enlightened, and in their baptism they are sanctified. They, too, are the church: members of the flock who are known by Jesus.

One day, according to God's promise, all who we recognize as part of the great communion of saints will be joined to yet more sheep from other folds. Until that blessed day, we listen carefully to our shepherd's voice and give praise to the one who laid down his life in order to take it up again.


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 9:33:58 AM

Comment

The shepherd image is not one with which we can easily identify, but I think it is a powerful image nonetheless and one that we should try to reclaim. During our worship this Sunday, we will be baptizing an infant as well as recognizing our High School graduates. As Presbyterians, in baptism, the congregation promises to nurture and care for (shepherd) the one baptized and to strengthen his/her family ties with the household of God. As we baptize one of our youngest members and celebrate with our seniors, we have an opportunity to reflect on how well we are doing as shepherds. I think this idea will work particularly well with the I John 3 passage which speaks of loving one another in active ways. How quickly our church would grow (spiritually and numerically) if we followed Jesus' example of being a shepherd and truly cared for one another in that same self-less way.

Tom in TN


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 10:27:46 AM

Comment

I need a swift kick in the boot on this one. This is one of those passages in my own mind which has been connected either with 1) Jesus' work or 2) the work of clergy. I get the "Jesus' work" from systematic theology and the "clergy" view from association. Clergy are the official shepherds of the modern church and most lay people I talk to do not see themselves in that role and don't want to.

I have spent the last year connecting the gospel passages to church leaders (officers and committees)and individual followers in the pew. But the text says that this is Jesus' work. He is still calling others into the one flock. Of course we maintain as Christians in general that the church is the body of Christ including the voice so I can take that angle to make the connection. But I am wondering how to make the point so people will here it and act on it.

But I am still mentally caught up in the "this is Jesus' work" purist mode. Can anyone provide a push?


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 10:40:45 AM

Comment

I am not even sure where to begin. Sunday is mother's day-- and for our congregation Church Music Sunday. How does the image of the shepherd work with church music Sunday?

The good shepherd/mom thing- well I think one can stretch it to make the connection. Any ideas?

Michele/PA


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 11:08:28 AM

Comment

In the church this is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Mothers' Day is not a religious festival nor is Church Music Sunday. The 4th Sunday of Easter has come to be called "Good Shepherd" Sunday because the Gospel lesson each year is about a portion of the "Good Shepherd" chapter of John.

I'm not suggesting we shouldn't mention mothers and Mothers' Day in our worship. Mothers can be included in the prayers, but I don't think we should make it a Mothers' Day service.

I think we should also be sensitive to those women who aren't mothers, some by choice but especially those who can't become mothers for physical/medical reasons, for whom this can be a difficult day. We might all be thankful for our own mothers but then comes the question of those who grow up without mothers or whose mothers were abusive and who don't feel very thankful for them.

A petition in the prayers something like this might be appropriate:

"Saving God, bless all mothers who honor you by making your love known to the families in their care."

As far as Church Music Sunday, let the choir and musicians do something special, but I don't think our preaching should stray from the Easter focus of Jesus the shepherd who cares for his sheep to the point of dying for them and overcoming death for them.

Shalom: Tom in Ontario


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 12:11:31 PM

Comment

My D.S.in the U.M.C. says we as pastors are not the shepherd of the sheep. There is only one shepherd and that is the Good Shepherd, Jesus. We are more like sheep dogs who keep the sheep in line and from straying away.Sometimes we must nip at some heels and bark really loud, but our main purpose is to keep the sheep following the Shepherd, Jesus.


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 12:57:19 PM

Comment

I don't think you can ever overdo this scripture, and this is relevent for our times. I like sheep doog image. I will use the word CARE here...Hired hand doenst care.... CARE (CHRIST ALWAYS RELIEVES EVERYTHING) and on Mother's day: Maybe not Christian holiday, Well Christmas is pagan and Easter means ISHTAR so pagan too. Sometimes people GAG at Gnat and swallow that Camel. In the West Virginia Conference in the UMC Mothers' Day Originated in a little Methodist Church in Grafton, WV... Anna Jarvis UMC... Anna Jarvis honored he mom with first service. GOOD SHEPHERD UMC is the CHARGE that Anna Jarvis is on, By the Way...coincidence??... Pastor Mary in West Ohio, fellow hillybilly...


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 2:09:04 PM

Comment

So here's a piece of vulnerablity that struck me as I pondered the text this morning: If Jesus is the good shepherd... and the not-so-good ones are the hired hands... and the role of pastor is often likened to that of shepherd... who gets paid for this work... does that make me the hired hand?

Perry from Alberta


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 3:17:14 PM

Comment

Michele,

Well known preacher Barbara Lundblad has made the connection between the shepherd and Mother's Day with the theme, "Those who have carried us." - AEA


Date: 5/5/2003
Time: 7:08:57 PM

Comment

I think a pastor should definitely comment on Music Sunday -- music is a gift offered weekly by many members of the congregation, and for the pastor not to give it attention is disrespectful. That said, music is made up of both notes and words, and few words have been used more often in music than those of the 23rd Psalm, often mixed in with references to this passage as well -- no need to stray far from the text after all.


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 5:33:45 AM

Comment

DPSers, Sorry to use this forum, but I want to ask Mary if she will be at Annual Conf.? Mary, I would like to meet you.

Also, on a more personal note, through no fault of mine,HONEST!,I have to have a large amount of money to the IRS by Friday. I am not going into detail, but I would like your prayers, everyone, I know our God can also bring order to the chaos that the IRS causes! Thank you, WV Toni


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 6:08:12 AM

Comment

Michele, Do you have a reference to Barbara Lundblad's sermon connecting the good shepherd with mothers as "those who carried us?" GB in MI


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 9:25:43 AM

Comment

Tom in Ga--Thanks for that quote on the fascinating verse about "other sheep"...That verse is an important little sentence, not often quoted, which demands our imaginations be opened and our dogmas be tempered with the largeness of God's love and grace for the whole world. I am personally grateful that John's gospel in particular includes this odd & expansive text! Aslanclan


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 9:31:03 AM

Comment

Isn't the reference to the hired hand more of an attempt to help us understand that Jesus is doing what he is doing for our benefit, not his own?

I don't see it so much as a contrast between Jesus and clergy. If you would like to gain some perspective on ministers being shepherds, read 1 Peter 5:1-4.

GC in IL

GC in IL


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 10:10:46 AM

Comment

I found this on the net. I wish I could remember where I found it, but I got it off a textweek.com link. What do people think about it. I would love to know. I would love to preach a message like this, but I think it has some big holes. Let me know. Rev. Kyle

May 11, 2003

John 10:11-18

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him.

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father."

[The Message]

=======

1. What would it mean for the Good Shepherd to sacrifice himself today? We are comfortable with the sacrificial imagery of long ago and Jesus being "sacrificed" on a cross.

2. A part of the sacrifice today might be the giving up of the name Christian. When we begin to vision Jesus' "other sheep" we might see them as being from other religious traditions. Just as we have racial blendings - what will it mean to have people not only identify themselves as African-Americans or Hispanic-Iraqis but as Atheist-Christians or Moslem-Buddhists? Will a Good Shepherd go so far as to lay down his/her name as well as their life? Can they pick up a larger flock under another name?

3. So often we let our identity constrain our living. To join sheep to sheep and flock to flock is only a beginning to joining each to each beyond current identity. What if we were to find a new common identity that binds together the good of Christianity with the good of every other faith perspective. It would not be pandering to some lowest common denominator, but the very best everyone had to offer. There probably isn't a name for this yet. We are told that it was in Antioch that folks first became known as Christian. Perhaps the place you are in will find a new name for all the sheep gathered together.


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 10:10:56 AM

Comment

I found this on the net. I wish I could remember where I found it, but I got it off a textweek.com link. What do people think about it. I would love to know. I would love to preach a message like this, but I think it has some big holes. Let me know. Rev. Kyle

May 11, 2003

John 10:11-18

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him.

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father."

[The Message]

=======

1. What would it mean for the Good Shepherd to sacrifice himself today? We are comfortable with the sacrificial imagery of long ago and Jesus being "sacrificed" on a cross.

2. A part of the sacrifice today might be the giving up of the name Christian. When we begin to vision Jesus' "other sheep" we might see them as being from other religious traditions. Just as we have racial blendings - what will it mean to have people not only identify themselves as African-Americans or Hispanic-Iraqis but as Atheist-Christians or Moslem-Buddhists? Will a Good Shepherd go so far as to lay down his/her name as well as their life? Can they pick up a larger flock under another name?

3. So often we let our identity constrain our living. To join sheep to sheep and flock to flock is only a beginning to joining each to each beyond current identity. What if we were to find a new common identity that binds together the good of Christianity with the good of every other faith perspective. It would not be pandering to some lowest common denominator, but the very best everyone had to offer. There probably isn't a name for this yet. We are told that it was in Antioch that folks first became known as Christian. Perhaps the place you are in will find a new name for all the sheep gathered together.


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 11:20:16 AM

Comment

I got this of of the Textweek.com webpage. I would love to preach it, but I think the principle has numerous holes in it, what do ya'll think? Rev. Kyle

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him.

"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father."

[The Message]

=======

1. What would it mean for the Good Shepherd to sacrifice himself today? We are comfortable with the sacrificial imagery of long ago and Jesus being "sacrificed" on a cross.

2. A part of the sacrifice today might be the giving up of the name Christian. When we begin to vision Jesus' "other sheep" we might see them as being from other religious traditions. Just as we have racial blendings - what will it mean to have people not only identify themselves as African-Americans or Hispanic-Iraqis but as Atheist-Christians or Moslem-Buddhists? Will a Good Shepherd go so far as to lay down his/her name as well as their life? Can they pick up a larger flock under another name?

3. So often we let our identity constrain our living. To join sheep to sheep and flock to flock is only a beginning to joining each to each beyond current identity. What if we were to find a new common identity that binds together the good of Christianity with the good of every other faith perspective. It would not be pandering to some lowest common denominator, but the very best everyone had to offer. There probably isn't a name for this yet. We are told that it was in Antioch that folks first became known as Christian. Perhaps the place you are in will find a new name for all the sheep gathered together.


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 11:21:51 AM

Comment

Well, sorry to waste the space, it seems to have printed out and then I thought it hadn't so I did some things and we get it three times. Sorry, Rev. Kyle


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 1:01:47 PM

Comment

"and the wolf snatches them and scatters them." This verse is interesting, the wolf does not kill but scatter the sheep. Just struck me as a different way of looking at the passage. Being scattered is not good, so maybe it is not good for believers to be scattered either. Nancy-Wi


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 1:07:23 PM

Comment

Michele/PA Felder, sung the song "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as the Lamb referred to Jesus. Nancy-Wis


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 1:50:47 PM

Comment

The Good Shepherd is the sacrifical lamb who has been sacrified for us.

tom in ga


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 2:13:17 PM

Comment

For me the thing about the shepherd image is the relationship, the amount of investment there that we can't imagine unless we have experience with livestock people. A couple in my church said today they know cattlemen in Sudan and Kenya, and the level of closeness between them and their animals is central to their lives and their identities. Some even were raised drinking a combination of cow's milk and cow's blood. This sounds strange to our ears, perhaps, but especially in light of the Jewish understanding of the blood as carrying the life of the animal, it's pretty profound.

The shepherd is one who owns the sheep, which is not about possession and personal property, but about investment. When we own something, it means we've given something of ourselves and put it into the other. It's a wonderful image for this Eastertide--Christ who has given so much of himself, who is so invested in the sheep, not just one who orders them around as a herd, but as one who has paid for us, to use the old image. This is intimate relationship, abiding, indwelling, all that Johannine stuff. And it is what it means to talk about the risen Christ in our midst.

It also is an easy tie-in to the love of a parent, whether mother or father. Parents are invested in their children, having given something important of themselves. A mother or father does not act like a hired hand (although some might wish we could get paid!). I generally do not do Mother's Day sermons or services, but certainly motherhood is a glimpse into the caring, responsible, invested love Christ shows to us.

tom in ga brought up an important point last week about stretching texts to make them fit current events. I responded to that (very late) Saturday evening, but I'll just say again that I only try to make connections where they fit naturally. I may make bad calls on that sometimes--last week's sermon felt very powerful, although I may not have explained it well. But I love and respect the lectionary and its power to speak differently on different occasions, as a living word. And I always approach it with the knowledge that the scripture is not mine to mold as is convenient to me.

Sorry for the long post. I appreciate this forum very much, as I no longer have the weekly lectionary group I used to rely on. There are many wise ones here, and I learn from you each week.

LM in South TX


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 2:28:00 PM

Comment

Regarding Church Music Sunday, it may be too late to make this decision now, but might the choir and/or congregation sing one or more versions of the 23rd Psalm? Hymn versions include: "The King of Love My Shepherd Is," and "The Lord's My Shepherd" (# 451 in Lutheran Book of Worship).

Heidi in MN


Date: 5/6/2003
Time: 3:01:23 PM

Comment

Comment regarding the wolf scattering the sheep. Isn't the scattering of the sheep precisely what happened when the Church was persecuted? And didn't this redound to God's glory as the Good News was spread to places it might not have gone without persecution?

So, even when the wolf (I think of the wolf in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe") does its worst other sheep not of the original fold hear the call of the Good Shepherd.

Just a thought.

Mark in OH


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 6:27:31 AM

Comment

I am not sure but I think the sheep dog image is from a book by Parker Palmer. Anyone know more. I just remember hearing that before but have never read it myself.

Avis in KY

PS I had the priviledge of being in the birthing room this week and was amazed again by the beauty of it all. I was thinking back to when my daughter was born and how when my husband went to where they were cleaning her she would calm herself when she heard his voice. It is amazing how soon she knew the voices that would be, and had been central to her life. For me this was the connection between Mother's Day, the celebration of the family and how it is, hopefully in a healthy family one of the places we come to recognize the voice of the Shepherd speaking to us and guiding us. I don't know how it related exactly but it has always facinated me that sheep, though they may wonder astray mindlessly, will not go into unknown territory without being led there. Cows you herd from behind; sheep you have to lead.


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 6:44:02 AM

Comment

Has anyone thought of animal mothers who lay down their lives as an analogy for this Scripture? LA in Al


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 6:54:40 AM

Comment

There's a great illustration if the shepherd laying his life down for his sheep in Barclay's commentary on this text. However, theologically/doctrinally speaking, Jesus isn't just killed defending the sheep from spiritual marauders (I've always thought he was referring to the Jewish religious leaders of the day, as per Isa 56, Jer 23, & Ez 34, though any false shepherds would apply.) His death is a planned one, AND he doesn't stay dead. He rises and becomes the eternal living shepherd, who is at work in bringing sheep from other flocks--initially gentiles, I imagine--to become one "meta-flock." Maybe the question that needs to be raised is, Why don't we all seem to hear the shepherd's voice saying the same thing? or Why don't we all hear the shepherd's voice the same way? AND Is it our ears that are plugged? (This last being the toughest of all to face.) Doesn't do much for Mother's Day...

-Rabbi in IL


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 6:56:21 AM

Comment

"OF the shepherd laying his life down for the sheep." Sorry

-Rabbi in IL


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 7:03:13 AM

Comment

This relationship between Shepherd and sheep is a mystery. Here the covenant is given and received, the second person of the Holy Trinity is identified with humanity, the Shepherd and lamb are one and the same!

The Shepherd knows his sheep because he is one of us, he has entered into our weakness and our since of God's absence and has brought us to himself through the Cross and Resurrection.

This is no simple metaphor, for here between the Shepherd and the sheep is played out the entire history of our salvation.

The last two verses 10:17 and 18 remind one of Philippians 2:5-11. The transcendent God has come tenderly close to us to bring us, and others, into his flock.

tom in ga


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 7:39:57 AM

Comment

I have a question; do pastors have to know the name of all their church members by heart? Do shephards care for all of their sheep, or do they take care of their flock. I can invison that other sheep in the flock also help to take care of each other. That the shephard insure that health is sustained in the flock, and the flock works with him. This makes sense if the pastor is seen as a shephard figure. Again recognizing that here, Jesus seems to be the shephard. Kyle in TX


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 7:58:47 AM

Comment

Swift Kick, who is to be a shepherd to the sheep? John 21 makes clear there is one criteria; "Do you love me?________ Feed my sheep" Manzel


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 9:15:56 AM

Comment

Rabbi in Ill,

yes I had thought about the story of the forestry people who entered into an area that had been devastated by fire. They saw a bird at the base of a tree that had it's wings still extended out, but the bird was charred and dead. When they moved the dead mother bird away, they discovered babies underneath that the mother had sheltered from the fire to save them. Losing her own life in the process.

Susan in Wa.


Date: 5/7/2003
Time: 7:17:18 PM

Comment

I have been ask to say a prayer for Law Enforcement Day. Has to be ecumenical. Has anybody done this? Nancy-Wi


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 5:05:25 AM

Comment

i appreciate the comments here. i check it weekly, but this is my first contribution. i am struck by the verse "i have the power" i have the power (choice) to lay down my life or not. i have the power to choose christ or not. like the rich young ruler had the power to give it all up--he could not. will we? i am going with love -- self love--soul care -- and the power issue. if we love ourselves -- intentionally -- we are better to able to love others. although i am not convinced we can love others if we don't truly love ourselves...another issue. i think the shepherd (Christ) loved himself and that, along with divinity, allowed him to love others. we aren't asked to be martyrs, but we are asked to be willing to lay down our life for another. i know many who wouldn't do it for themselves let alone others. not sure where all i am going, but i like the power issue. power has a strong imagine for many and i would like to put it in a healthy, life giving aspect -- which is how i see Chrit's love for us...and i how i believe we are to love others. sort of rambling...sorry bonnie in PA


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 6:43:02 AM

Comment

Bonnie:

We are asked to be martyrs. The original meaning of the word is witness and we're called to be witnesses to the resurrection by living it. The word has come to mean someone who dies for their witness. We're not likely to end up dying for our witness in this part of the world but it's a very real possibility for some. It's not the same as having a death wish because the resurrection surely shows us one thing, the value of life.

Shalom: Tom in Ontario


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 7:59:50 AM

Comment

Someone asked about sheepdog references. I got the following from a friend a while back. Jim in Wisconsin

"The Teacher's Vocation" chapter in Evelyn Underhill's The Mount of Purification. Actually, it was an address she gave to Sunday School teachers in 1927. She begins by talking about sheep-dog trials...

..."Now those sheep-dogs that afternoon gave me a much better address on the way in which pastoral work among souls should be done than I shall be able to give you. They were helping the shepherd to deal with a lot of very active sheep and lambs, to persuade them into the right pastures, to keep them from rushing down the wrong paths. And how did the successful dog do it? Not by barking, fuss, ostentatious authority, any kind of busy behaviour. The best dog that I saw never barked once; and he spent an astonishing amount of his time sitting perfectly still, looking at the shepherd. The communion of spirit between them was perfect. They worked as a unit. Neither of them seemed anxious or in a hurry. Neither was committed to a rigid plan; they were always content to wait. That dog was the docile and faithful agent of another mind. He used his whole intelligence and initiative, but always in obedience to his master's directive will; and was ever prompt at self-effacement. The little mountain sheep he had to deal with were amazingly tiresome, as expert in doubling and twisting and going the wrong way as any naughty little boy. The dog went steadily on with it; and his tail never ceased to wag.

What did that mean? It meant that his relation to the shepherd was the center of his life; and because of that, he enjoyed doing his job with the sheep, he did not bother about the trouble, nor get discouraged with the apparent results. The dog had transcended mere dogginess. His actions were dictated by something right beyond himself. He was the agent of the shepherd, working for a scheme which was not his own and the whole of which he could not grasp, and it was just that which was the source of the delightedness, the eagerness and also the discipline with which he worked. But he would not have kept that peculiar and intimate relation unless he had sat down and looked at the shepherd a good deal."


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 9:32:45 AM

Comment

I like the idea for a children's sermon of comparing our love for our pets to the role of a shephard.( plus, it gives a chance for the kids to talk about their pets) -vicar matt


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 1:34:11 PM

Comment

"The Lord makes me Lie Down in Green Pastures"...

I heard an interesting fact about sheep recently that even though I'm not preaching... seemed appropriate to share with you all... for the Psalm and the Gospel Lesson for "Festival of the Christian Home/Mother's Day" It is this,

There are two times when sheep actually will be comfortable enough to lie down...

when they feel safe...

and when they are full.

I think one could make some similarities to our lives... Blessings one and all,

pulpitt in ND


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 1:47:40 PM

Comment

One of the connections I will be making is to the sheep listening to the shepherd's voice. The extension will be for the Church as the body of Christ...When the world hears our voice, what do they hear? There are the obvious negative ways the voice of the Church is perceived by the world...churchladyish, bickering, irrelevant, and the positive...a voice of compassion, a voice speaking out for the outcast. What examples can others think of that are the voice of Good News and Grace or "the creaking of a rusty gate" (I Cor. 13:1, The Message)?

Cindy in Wisconsin


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 4:55:45 PM

Comment

It seems to me that we loose sight of the full meaning of this passage when we focus on metaphorical interpretations - this is simply an image of Christ with his Church (Yahweh with the people of Israel), the lover with his beloved (Song of Solomon); the give and take, the speaking and the hearing, the active and the passive, the male and the female, the co-inherence of God with us. It is the fullness of Emmanuel, the Word become flesh, the new covenant: The one who is living water, bread of life, resurrection and the life, is also Shepherd who will not let us wander into wasted lands, but draws us with his love to himself. We as sheep are lost without him, for we don't know our right hand from our left, we don't even know God without the silent cry of the shepherd who draws us to himself in the midst of the world's suffering.

tom in ga


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 8:27:10 PM

Comment

Bonnie in PA

Thanks for rambling with us. It's what we do here and what is appreciated. For a first time rambler, you done good.

RevIsrael


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 9:01:18 PM

Comment

Michele/PA: The 23rd Psalm/Song is a perfect tie-in to Church Music -- because that's exactly what the psalm is! Shepherd boy David was a song-writer for his God before he became a shepherd king for God's people.

YellAROSE!nTx


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 9:17:53 PM

Comment

Lie Lay Lain

Lay Laid Laid

Remember having to memorize those verb tenses? The first one is intransitive (Today I lie down, Yesterday I lay down, Often I have lain down...).

The second one is transitive -- takes an object (Now I lay the book on the table, Yesterday I laid it there, Already I have laid the keys down...).

Why the confusion? Well -- lots of Christians are willing to do the intransitive kind ("lie down in green pastures to restore my soul"), but few are willing to follow Jesus to do the transitive kind ("lay down your life for others").

I think I'll preach on the need to do both: allow ourselves to be nurtured/fed/soothed/healed (23rd Psalm) -- but also practice the active self-giving of extending ourselves on behalf of others (I John and gospel).

Christ doesn't "maketh me to 'lay' down my life" as he did. He just gives me the HS power to follow his model. It's a free choice, as His was.

Lie Down / Lay Down Hmmm. Where do I go with this now....?

Professor Tom Langford said (regarding abused women and codependent victims, etc.): "You can't lay down your self for Christ until you have a self to lay down." Sounds like one who needs a little more time lying down, resting beside still waters while a loving Shepherd keeps the wolves away.

Thoughts...? YellAROSE!nTx


Date: 5/8/2003
Time: 9:29:15 PM

Comment

A Child Learns to Trust by Laurie Hays Coffman

My mom is my shepherd; I shall not want. She makes me lie down under cool, downy comforts.

She watches me play beside still waters. She restores my soul.

She leads me in paths of respect, responsibility, and goodness, for I am her namesake!

Yea, even though I walk past monsters in the dark, I will not be ascared, because my mom is always near me.

Her hands and her voice, they comfort me. Mama sets the table and cheerfully calls me to dinner even in front of big, mean bullies. She anoints my skinned knees and broken heart with kisses.

She smiles and throws me a towel when my cup runneth over.

Surely God's peace, power, and mercy shall uphold me all the days of my life, for my Mother taught me to dwell in the house of God forever.


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 7:10:16 AM

Comment

I'm focusing on v. 14, "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." I remember a parishioner who often saw himself as the sheep safely coddled in Jesus' arms as depicted in the stained glass window behind the pulpit. He spent most of his life drunk or stoned and eventually was killed by the 'wolves' of his addictions. Quandry - what did he KNOW of Jesus? What did Jesus KNOW of him? The good shepherd image seems not to have saved him from the wolves and may have enabled his self-destruction. Conversely, the shepherd image may have afforded him some genuine peace between binges. I'm struggling with how and what we KNOW (or think we know) about Jesus the shepherd. Help! Joe in Zion.


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 7:31:52 AM

Comment

To: Swift cick in the booth: Have a look at "Spirituality and The Avoidant Personality" by L. Rebecca Propst at http://www.textweek.com/. She advocates that the church is in avoidance mode on suffering and that therefore those who suffer feel they cannot identify with or join the church. Is the church willing to lay down it's modern non-suffering mode like the good shepherd? Rev. Tony W. Bouwmeester.


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 8:09:18 AM

Comment

Hi all.

Thanks, Joe in Zion, for your honest questions! Wish I had more of an "answer."

When I have faced this sort of issue with people(frequently while preparing for a funeral!), I am forced to acknowledge that I/we know precious little about Jesus! But I am also compelled by the grace of God to affirm that the Good Shepherd DOES know us, right down to our last shooter(!), and, in the same breath, announcing that his knowledge of us does not remove his love from us.

Beyond that, I am forced to leave it all in the hands OF the Good Shepherd, because I must acknowledge that I am not all that different from the parishioner you describe. I, too, go on binges (most of the time!!) in which I try, by various methods, to numb the pain of life, and try to ignore the Shepherd who calls me to accept the pain of life. And I, too, have moments when I trust myself to that Shepherd, and discover life in the midst of the pain.

May God bless your wrestling.

Rick in Canada, eh?


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 11:33:01 AM

Comment

.....they will listen to my voice ....

I don't think it is very easy to hear the voice of the shepherd in the midst of the world's noise. It seems to me that other voices are much louder than the whisper of the Shepherd. The crisis in the Roman Catholic Church (as well as all of our denominations) regarding sexual abuse; and the "desire for more" in the Eron scandal are just some of the ways in which our wants, hunger, desires, become confused with the voice of the Shepherd. This voice is not simply our conscience, but the gentle prodding to live fully before the face of the Shepherd. How we are able to do this remains a mystery, for we must learn to discern the voices within us,a nd know which one is from the Shepherd and which one from the wolf.

tom in ga


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 11:37:26 AM

Comment

P.S.

Also, the Shema, "Hear O Israel" is at the heart of this listening ... the willingness to wait patiently for a word that comes in silence. Indeed, it seems to me that one of the signs of God's word in our lives is whether or not we hear it in the midst of our suffering and weakness or if we hear it in our desire for "more" power, money, sex, etc. Such hearing demands from all of us a emptying of the self so that we may discover the presence of the Shepherd guiding us, instead of ourselves doing what we want .... which is to eat just a little more grass!

tom in ga


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 2:42:05 PM

Comment

I'm going with the "My sheep hear my voice" theme. My opening will be remembering how I could hear my own mother's voice calling my name above the play-sounds of childhood, the noises of the streets, the barking of the dogs, and when I heard my mother's voice, I knew it was a voice I could trust and could safely go toward. I recognized that voice as something worth listening to. In the same way, we can hear the voice of Jesus far above the clamor of life and know that it is a voice bearing messages of peace and security and promise. We can trust that voice and respond to it without fear.

I know it's simplistic, but it's still in its infancy right now. I'm a late-in-the-week sermon preparer. Can't understand how people write theirs on Tuesday!!! [g] By Saturday noon, it will be in preachin' form, if God is willing.

KyHoosierCat


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 3:28:58 PM

Comment

I agree with one on this site who said that we must be careful about lifting up just mothers since there are some who are not mothers by choice and some who have no choice. However, this scripture is about the type relationship that Jesus has with us. I plan to pull out those qualities and lift them up emphasizing being in relationship with children on this day that we do celebrate Mother's Day. This is a day to celebrate mothers, but more a day to celebrate all those who have or have had a significant role in the lives of children. lp in CO


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 6:17:17 PM

Comment

Tom Ga Your posting got me thinking a bit. Perhaps we could liken the voice of the Church as the voice of the shepherd. It is the voice of the church that should be looking out for the sheep. Nancy-Wi


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 9:40:45 PM

Comment

This may be way off topic, but it's worth sharing.

Tonight Bill Gates was on on Now with Bill Moyers. They talked about him giving his money away. His focus is third-world health, diseases that affect our far-away neighbors so much more horribly than they do us.

Here's the part I liked: Gates said the reason we need to conquer diseases (like AIDS, Malaria, etc. ) is not because it would add 30% more to the GNP if people in a particular country weren't sick from that disease, and not because nations with health crises are unstable and potentially revolutionary, and not because someone from that country with that disease might get on a plane and give it to us. We need to do it because that child is sick and that mother is grieving and we can make a difference.

I'm working on a tie-in between the hired-hand attitude and the shepherd attitude here. I guess I've heard that Gates is not a person of faith, but if that's so, maybe he's in that other fold.

kbc in sc


Date: 5/9/2003
Time: 11:14:13 PM

Comment

Is not israel not one fold and the beleiving christain another fold. That is what i have allways beleived.Verse 16 said they will listen to my voice. Liked he listen to his Father's voice in verse 18.

Pastor Roger in WV


Date: 5/10/2003
Time: 9:37:50 AM

Comment

Rev Kyle, In answer to your question, the quotation came from: www.wesleyspace.net/sermons/sermon_2003/may_03/051103.html J Bright


Date: 5/10/2003
Time: 11:22:21 AM

Comment

I have a picture on my wall, a shepherdess with a lamb in her arms. I bought her because she reminded me of the pastoral imagery, especailly as a woman in ministry. Interesting that the romantic image is of a woman, but his was a man's job in bible times. I love the image of pastor as shepherd, always remembering that we are under-shepherds, but I think that the role is big enough to stretch to the laity as well, especailly parents who are the first shepherds of children, and those who nurture children. Pastor Melissa near Boston


Date: 5/10/2003
Time: 1:18:06 PM

Comment

yellAROSEintexas iagree with your thoughts. i tried to convey some of that in my rambling. how can we love another if we don't love ourselves. it goes with the thoughts and reflections of the man with additctions. jesus holds us in the addiction, but desires more from us -- but the fact remains he continues to hold us! are we willing to wait patiently for our own healing/nuturing/etc while in the grass or are we too afraid to lie down in the grass? healing is often painful to run to help others heal and deny our own healing. christ did not deny his needs--he went off to rest & pray in the midst of it all. we need to do the same. bonnie in pa


Date: 5/10/2003
Time: 1:20:27 PM

Comment

sorry for the spelling -- it should read healing is painful, so we run to help others and deny our own. we need to allow christ to heal us -- staying as long as possible in the grass AND THEN run to help our neighbors. sort of like are we giving out of our abundance or our emptiness? bonnie in pa


Date: 5/11/2003
Time: 5:40:27 AM

Comment

sorry to be late, but follow the money. it has to do with who the shepherd works for. hired help will run and have no loyalty to stay when things get tough. do you want to follow someone who goes along with whoever has the checkbook?