(What follows is a summary of the thoughts shared by our pastor this past Sunday. For most congregations this was Good Shepherd Sunday, but Pastor Shelly Satran found something more than that inside the day’s lectionary. Brilliant and inspiring stuff…..)
On this Sunday, it’s common—and perhaps expected—that we revisit the familiar analogies embedded in Psalm 23 and Jesus’ musings about shepherding. Good thoughts, all of them: We’re like sheep, going astray. Jesus is a good shepherd, doing what is best for us, even to the point of self-sacrifice. He deserves our thanks and praise for our safety, sustenance and sense of belonging.
After hearing and contemplating this text for many years, though, I sometimes bristle at the notion that we are so much like sheep—basically dumb, purposeless and easily frightened—that we can’t do anything without a shepherd to take care of us.
From her personal upbringing, our pastor seems to know a great deal about sheep. And from her insistence on finding brilliance—the light we need—in Scripture, Pastor Shelly certainly knows the people of our congregation. For those reasons, she invited us to rename Good Shepherd Sunday as Trust Sunday!
In Sunday’s texts, Pastor Shelly found that the essential quality of the sheep/shepherd relationship is trust. Reliance and dependency, certainly, but underneath those attitudes are the ongoing confidence and expectation that sheep/people can count on this Shepherd. That’s what makes him “good.” That’s what makes us more than just hearers of Good News: We are also bearers and proclaimers of the loving trustworthiness of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Jesus trusts us to continue his work.
What was inspiring about our pastor’s insight? The bright and shining truth that, even when we’re sheep-like, trust in God motivates us to carry God’s love into the world. Even when we live outside the safety of the sheep fold. Even when life’s journeys take us into situations where only a Good Shepherd would lead. Where Jesus has already been.
Where Jesus already works….
(To receive these entries when they are posted, go to the upper right-hand corner of the top banner and click on the three dots or parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)