Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Shepherd Sunday

For those of us that worship at liturgical churches that use the lectionary, today is Good Shepherd Sunday. This seems especially apropos since in my undergrad Prophets class, my exegesis was on Ezekiel 34 which addresses shepherds who did not look after the sheep, but only cared for themselves. Today's scripture readings were Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10.

God certainly delights in driving a point home to us, doesn't he? The passages from Ps 23 and John 10 went through my mind frequently while studying Ezekiel 34 and reading others' posts. As always, the Lord models the way for us and enables us to follow.

Here are some contrasts.

Bad Shepherds

Good Shepherd

Like having no shepherd at all.

God the shepherd.

Feed selves.

Feed sheep with good pasture.

Did not strengthen the weak.

Strengthens weak.

Did not heal the sick.

Heals sick.

Did not bind up injured

Binds up injured

Did not bring back strays.

Searches for/brings back strays.

Did not seek the lost.

God will rescue them.

Ruled with force and harshness.

Provide place to lie down and rest.

Caused them to be scattered and exposed to wild animals.

Gathers them.

Caused them to wander.

Brings them home.

This is just from Ezekiel 34.

It is written of more poetically in Psalm 23.

In John 10, Jesus identifies himself as the good shepherd who protects and cares for the sheep. Now the issue is not one regarding shepherds and sheep, but leaders and their constituents, pastors and people. What kind of shepherds are we? By the way, the shepherd in this picture is female!

Picture from Bible Places.


Andy said...


One of the things we have realized lately is the need to multiply our shepherding ministry - teaching both staff and lay leaders of the importance of caring for people and "closing our back door."

I heard one man express it as going from shepherd to rancher - not denying the shepherding role of church leaders, but seeing to it that there were enough servant-leaders in place to see to it that the need was met.

How can we multiply ourselves so that NOBODY feels as though we're only in it to care for our own needs?

Mark Daniels said...

Very nice job here!

Thanks for your affirmation of the sermon I gave at our conference gathering on Sunday. Our synod is preparing to elect a bishop next month and we need to be prayerful about our priorities. If you could pray with us, that would be wonderful.

Blessings in Christ,
Mark Daniels

Ivy said...

Andy, thanks for your comments. "How can we multiply ourselves so that NOBODY feels as though we're only in it to care for our own needs?"--I don't know that is possible. We just have to make sure we're operating out of Christ's compassion and leave it in his hands. May God give you grace at your church to be all that he's called you to be. Blessings.

Ivy said...

Thank you for your comments, Mark. I will certainly be praying for your synod and its upcoming synod assembly. I know we've been very blessed with our bishop who is in her second term. She sets a wonderful example of spirituality, influencing the entire synod.

Keep up the good work, Mark. By the way, where that picture of you was taken isn't far from my home town of Rochester, NY.