Thinking About Shepherds

The following thoughts are the talk I did for the all age service on Sunday.

Many of the people around me keep sheep. It makes a difference when I go into schools and tell the story of the lost sheep. I met a girl last week whilst I was out walking who wanted to take her sheep to school.  Her mum and me didn’t think it would be allowed.   However, my glove puppet is a lamb called Barnabus and he goes into school with me. That’s not fair. 

life’s not fair…. get used to it….. I used to say to my children.

But even when life is not fair, when we know Jesus, he can be like a shepherd for us.  He takes care of us, protects us and leads us home to heaven when this life here is finished.  I had great fun putting together a film of pictures and me reading Psalm 23 which I put on Facebook to see what people thought. I hope that you are able to access it from here:

Psalm 23

Let’s look at the psalm set for today (Psalm 23) and see if we can work out what it means:

I have everything I need.  I’ll not want – I want doesn’t get….. we will need for nothing when we trust in God.  People help in all sorts of ways to make sure we have what we need.  Jesus said do not worry about what you will eat or wear… Your heavenly Father knows what you need, so ask him.  Jesus’ team (or flock) is out there in all sorts of ways – food banks, delivering meals, helping each other, giving to charity.

He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.   He gives me new strength.  Rest and relaxation is part of the rhythm of life. We can’t be active and working all the time.   When we turn to God he can help us to feel peaceful even when life is difficult.  He gives us the inner strength to keep going.

 Even if I go through the deepest darkness,I will not be afraid, for you are with me.    Jesus protects us.  He said that he lays down across the front of the pen to protect the sheep and keep the wolves away.   He helps us to be brave when life is difficult.

Jesus is with us – and he knows us.  Just like a shepherd knows his sheep, and like the sheep know their shepherds voice, we need to learn to recognise Jesus’ voice and follow his directions.

Shepherds use a Rod and Staff – Jesus leads us, clears the way for us and guides us through life.   The older versions say they comfort us.  In the old days the word Comfort meant to strengthen not an arm around the shoulder and saying “there, there”.  Jesus gives us courage to face problems, and give us the strength we need day by day.

The banquet and being in God’s house for ever point us towards heaven.   And the cup overflowing reminds us of God’s wonderful generosity towards us.  He wants to bless us, and bless us and then bless us some more.

There are many hymns based on Psalm 23.  My favourite has the chorus – “I will trust in you”   by Stuart Townend.  We had it at our wedding 7 years ago on Star Wars Day – May the 4th. This YouTube video has lovely pictures to go with the song.

Prayer:  Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep: teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God the Father.

I am getting very frustrated at technology. Eg, this is the third time I have typed this paragraph – WordPress keeps re-loading the page without saving this. If I go quicker, will I beat it? No….. despite saving, it’s just done it again.

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