Year C, Proper 29
So we come to the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Since early in the 20th century this Sunday has been known as Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. This year our scriptures ask questions about leadership in God’s realm. What makes a good leader, a good shepherd, of God’s people? How do the people defend against those who are not good shepherds? How does God lead God’s people?
The prophet, Jeremiah, states God’s intentions for God’s people. “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD…. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them… I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” Psalm 46 describes the kind of shepherd or leader that God is with the implication in context with our other texts this week that those who shepherd God’s people must provide refuge and great stability of presence. Luke 1 and Colossians 1 describe the coming of the Messiah, the shepherd of God’s people that God has promised for generations. The great shepherd sent by God with be “a mighty savior”(Luke 1:69). This One will” rescue us from the power of darkness.” In this One dwells “all the fullness of God” and through this One “God is reconciled to all things, whether on earth or in heaven”(Colossians 1:13, 19-20). Luke 23 gives us the story of Jesus, the shepherd Messiah, willing to die for the flock of God’s people, the flock that he loves.
We are headed into the seasons of Advent and Christmas when stories of little shepherd boys who bring their gifts to the Christ Child abound. What other stories do we know about shepherds? We know the Aesop’s fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” There is a similar folktale, “The Shepherd’s Mistake.” Both these tales tell about the shepherds in Jeremiah’s warning, the shepherds ultimately scatter the flock.
Are their shepherd stories that you know that warn of shepherds who scatter instead of gather? What are the stories you know of imaginary or maybe real life shepherds who gather their flocks with love and care, with nurture and guidance. Below are some stories that speak to the image of the pastor as shepherd. They are original stories rather than folktales. I encourage you to see how these stories might inspire you to create your own shepherd story.
Blessings on your story journey,
©Jane Anne Ferguson, 2016 and beyond. Commentary and photos may be reprinted with permission only. Please tell the stories!