Important distinction: attributes of the good shepherd with that of the hired hand. A good shepherd is willing to give up his own life to protect the sheep in his care. A hired man is willing to give up the sheep in order to protect himself.
Sometimes we can read these words as reassuring. When I am in trouble, Christ was protect me. Surely, the first Christian communities would have needed such reassurance.
But, we can also read them as prescriptive. We who are the body of Christ, we who are the church, have in our care many who need protection. Or, we should have them in our care.
Look around you. How are the sheep doing in your town? When trouble comes to them, do you run toward them or away?
Another distinction--that may not be important: sheep in my fold and sheep that do not belong to my fold. Who are the other sheep? Do you consider them to be the responsibility of your congregation?
December 8, 2013 – Second Sunday of AdventHoly God, through your prophets you have promised us a world where justice and mercy would reign, where knowledge and understanding would prevail, and where the poor and the weak would be the recipients of compassion and not scorn. You sent Christ to give us the vision of this kind of Kingdom, then gave us the Holy Spirit within us that we might work to make a way for it in our world. As we give our gifts this morning, may you dedicate them and us to help bring about a world where your love, mercy, and grace reign supreme. We pray this in the name that is above all others, Jesus the Christ. Amen.(Isaiah 11:1-10.)
written by Ken Sloan.
"Copyright General Board of Discipleship. www.GBOD.org Used by permission."