I love children. I love them for their innocence, love for life and unconditional acceptance of God! Last Sunday at church was Good Shepherd Sunday with the passage from the Gospel of John 10:11 where Jesus says “I am the Good Shepherd.” The church where I preached had a children’s sermon. I searched high and low through Crawfordsville for something, anything, sheep related to show the children. There are no sheep figurines, there are no sheep toys or books and the only thing that came close were animal crackers. I couldn’t use them because the little boxes they come in use zoo animals.
I finally found a sheep-like beanie baby at a thrift store and made up a story for all the children who came forward last Sunday. I told them I couldn’t find any sheep at any store and talked about how sometimes we might feel lost but God always knows where we are and always loves us. Then I showed them my beanie baby and one little boy said “That’s not a sheep, that’s a bear!” So it turns out I don’t know what sheep look like after all.
The Bible does talk about us as sheep and the shepherd imagery is used in various places in Scripture. “We like sheep have gone astray…” (Isaiah 53:6) points to the fact that we always want our own way and we are stubborn, just like sheep! There is a pastor who is also a shepherd named Phillip Keller and he has a book out called “A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23.” He points out that sheep are very stubborn and cannot rest until they are free from pests, free from fear and fighting among the ranks, and they have to be free from hunger. The most important thing, says the author, is that before they can rest and lay down sheep have to see their shepherd. The whole quality of the life of sheep is based on their shepherd. Seeing their leader helps them feel cared for and safe.
So we are like sheep, aren’t we? We rest in the saving knowledge that Jesus died for us and rose again and is now our Good Shepherd! We do see Jesus in each other, in church, in the Bible, in baptismal waters, bread and wine and the world around us. We are cared for and eternally safe in Jesus. And every day God shepherds us out into the world to notice the beauty, the wonder and the joy of life. And we, then, are to add other sheep to the fold! We are to share the Good News with those we meet, inviting someone to church with us, loving our neighbor and lending a helping hand. It may be that life really is having a child like faith, and knowing the difference between a beanie baby sheep and bear!
Invite someone to make a weekend! Ask now before fall schedule cloud up, and make your plans to come and join the National Gathering this July! It’s not too late, come on and renew your child-like faith in the Lord with fellow sheep from all over the country!
Check out www.viadecristo.org and join us!
As I type I also request our most fervent prayers for world and national events on TV and the news. May the people of Baltimore find peace, and those suffering in Nepal know the Lord. Amen!
Pastor Doug Givan
“The Lord is with us, we have no cause to fear. The eye of the Lord is upon us while arms cover us in love. The ear of the Lord is open to our prayers and the grace of God sufficient, His promises unchangeable.”