The Good Shepherd...

After our service this morning we held our annual general meeting. It went well. Last year our church voted to adopt a new governance structure for the church as well as a new constitution. Over the past 12 months the Elders have been working out  what it means to work within the new structure. It was great to see the hardwork pay off in today’s meeting. God is faithful!

Earlier this week I met someone for coffee and they asked about the whole process. As I recounted the now 2 year journey I was amazed at just how much change and development had taken place over the past twelve months. I was surprised at just how ordered and natural it rolled off my tongue. I can tell you it did not feel like that at the time! The whole process seemed messy and disorganised. There were many days when I wondered if we were doing anything. God is faithful!

On a funny note, in my AGM report (the written version) I snuck in a line about the first ten people to mention this sentence would receive a chocolate frog. Should I be concerned that only 5 claimed their prize?!?! 😉

Our text this morning, the 4th Sunday of Lent, was John 9:1-41. I spoke on verses 1 through 7 and then 35 through 41. It occurred to me only this morning that the Psalm and Old Testament readings were about shepherds. Firstly Psalm 23 and then the call of David in 1 Samuel 16. John 9 is located within a discussion about Jesus as the good shepherd (John 9:1 – 10:21). John contrasts the Pharisees as the shepherds of Israel with Jesus the true shepherd of Israel (among other things). God is faithful!

I like the metaphor of shepherd for the role of the minister. It speaks to me of the true heart of pastoral ministry. It draws upon the pastoral nature of Jesus’ ministry (as seen in the way Jesus seeks the Man born blind after he is rejected by the Pharisees) and, for me at least, it cuts through the negative associations I have with the word pastor (especially when used as a title before the  ministers name).

When I hear the word shepherd I am drawn to two passages of scripture. The first is obvious, 1 Peter 5:2, “shepherd God’s flock” God’s flock, not mine. The second is Amos 3:12, “As the shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth only two leg bones or a piece of an ear…” A shepherd never stops caring for the flock. Even when his (or her) life is in danger the shepherd will return to save what he (or she) can. As I am constantly reminded there are many hirelings in this business and so very few shepherds. Therefore, if someone calls me a shepherd I am truly grateful for it is the highest honour anyone can bestow upon me. When they refer to me as a shepherd they have recognised my vocation and calling and I must be doing something right! God is faithful!

Peace be with you!