I’m not that fond of sheep and I find it hard to wax lyrical about shepherds. You see I have some actual experience with both. I was a watcher of sheep when I was very young. It is lonely, boring work, that is, until a ewe gives birth and then it is gross, yucky work! Tiny lambs are fun to feed on the bottle, but after a few days they are just greedy little things demanding your time and attention. And then they grow up and ignore you. Maybe that is Jesus’ point when he compares us all to sheep! I suspect, however, that even in the Gospels, the idea of shepherds and sheep was much more romantic than the actual experience! This Sunday Jesus talks of sheep and shepherds to warn us of false leaders. He evokes the image of the sheepfold that was used to corral the sheep at the end of day to keep them safe until morning when the shepherd took them out to graze once again. History tells us that sometimes these pens were large and communal with several bands of sheep overnighting. In the morning, each shepherd would call his sheep in turn, out the narrow gate, gathering and leading them to pasture. It was a scene Jesus and many others would have observed as the day began. Jesus reminds us that it is obvious who the true shepherds are. They walk confidently to the gate, open it, and call their sheep. Impostors, he says, must scale the wall and steal what sheep they can catch or drive away. He is clear that the sheep know the difference between the true shepherd and the impostor. “When he has brought out his own,” Jesus says, “he goes ahead of them, and they follow because they know his voice.” It sounds so simple. Maybe for sheep it is, but for you and me, discerning what voices to listen to these days is difficult. We like to think that science is definitive, but of course, it’s not. We want to rely on our leaders and their experts for wisdom and direction, but the ground before us all keeps shifting and even the wisest are confounded. We are anxious and want to be reassured. We are fearful and want our safety to be guaranteed. We are restless and feel the need to act. We are sheep beset by the howling of wolves and the flash of lightening, eager for anyone purporting to save us. It’s hard to listen with so much noise and angst and uncertainty. But it is times like these that we must particularly attend, not necessarily for words that soothe and comfort, but for words that proclaim the freedom and truth of Christ. Words like, “Do not be afraid, I am with you.” Words like freedom and forgiveness. Words like life, abundant and eternal. Words like “love one another”. We find these words and our necessary consolation as we devote ourselves “to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers”. (Acts 2:42) We are reminded as we study the life and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, that we are created to be children of light and life and truth. We are to live prudently, honoring all life, but fearlessly as well, knowing that our times and this world are in God’s good hands.
Dear Friends, First, let me say thank you for your continued support of Grace! Financially we are managing, even without our rental income, due to your faithful stewardship. Thank you! We also have news about worshipping at Grace. We will have our first service together, Sunday, May 17. There will be safety protocols in place and social distance seating. We are recommending that you wear protective masks for the safety of everyone. We will continue to offer live streaming worship as well. Please do what is best for you. You will receive information about the safety protocols next week. If there is a spike in new cases in Canyon County between now and May 17, we will reconsider. As important as it is to worship together in person, we can make this sacrifice in order to contribute to the safety of the community. In the meantime, the office is open on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, 9-2, for sure and Thursday by appointment. We continue to provide diapers and clothing to those in need. The House Next Door is busy with painting and remodeling the upstairs bathroom. Their board retreat is this weekend, so please keep this ministry in your prayers. If you haven’t contributed to Idaho Gives, you might consider doing so. The last day is May 7. We are asking that you think about supporting Learning Peace, Inc., The House Next Door, and Idaho Diaper Bank. Thank you to all who have already given! All of these are partner ministries of Grace, enabling us to do work we could only contemplate alone. Go to Idahogives.org and type the name of the organization in the locator guide and it will take you to the proper site. Minimum gifts are $10. So, stay safe, reach out to your friends and neighbors, and join us on Facebook at 10:30 on Sunday! May God bless and keep you. Karen+