December 23 - #AdventWord #Flock
We’re fortunate in the Lowcountry to see flocks of seabirds and songbirds, coveys of doves. Not so close at hand to most of us is a flock of sheep.
What good are sheep? They can supply wool and food, for starters. We teach about them in nursery rhymes. Lullabies. They turn up in Christmas carols. You’ve heard preachers say that sheep aren’t the brightest of creatures. They need tending lest they go astray. We resist some comparisons to sheep: we don’t want to get fleeced.
We can’t overlook sheep in the Bible. Together with rams and lambs, they are all over the place, with more than five hundred mentions in Scripture. “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Jesus teaches that he is the Good Shepherd, the gate, the protector of the sheepfold, the guide who knows his sheep by name, and they recognize him. The one who nurtures the sheep. And lays down his life for them. The one who goes after that one lost sheep and carries it home to safety. The one who comes that we may have life, and have it abundantly. Jesus abides with us and in us as the Shepherd of our souls.
Ultimately, Jesus is born to be the lamb who gives his life for the world. Behold the Lamb. All this makes us the flock. Among us Jesus inspires some shepherds and sheep dogs: Bishops with shepherds’ staffs of one fashion or another. Lay people and clergy engaged in pastoral care.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus assures us, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
Are there any lost sheep you will invite in and bring to the manger this Christmas Season? If you are a lonely sheep, isolated and in pain, Jesus is born for you. Join us.
— The Rev. Donald Fishburne worships at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Church on Pawleys Island. He is trained as a mentor in the clergy Thriving in Ministry initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment.
As part of this effort to create a global, online advent calendar -- led by Forward Movement -- we will share a new word each day from November 28-December 25, 2021, with meditations from people around the diocese. Each day, the meditation will be accompanied by an image relating to the word of the day as well.