I wonder what it feels like to be a sheep?
Well you and I in the Church should know because we are all part of the flock of Jesus Christ, he is our Good Shepherd (John 10:1-10)
Jesus uses this analogy of the Shepherd and the Sheep in Palestinian terms. Here the shepherd leads the flock, he doesn’t drive it. Here the shepherd gives the flock names so that he can call them to him, even in a mixed flock. Here the Shepherd will show extraordinary care to keep the flock together, seeking out the lost, carrying the stray, rescuing and saving those who are in danger. Here the Shepherd looks after the flock, even sleeping at the opening of the sheep pen to prevent anything attacking the sheep, he becomes the gate to the pen. Jesus uses this analogy to describe himself and how he cares for those that follow him, those he knows by name, those who believe in him. So what does it feel like to be sheep?
In Biblical times, sheep are bred for their wool and male lambs without defect become religious sacrifices for the sins of the people. Jesus however becomes the one and only sacrifice for the sins of the people, his flock is not sacrificed, the Shepherd offers himself.
The vision of this type of Shepherd caring for his flock is often used in scripture to describe the characteristics of a King anointed by God to lead his people. It is a vision of servant leadership, a vision of a public office to serve the people.
How interesting for us as Christian people to know this model of leadership not only to reflect on the leaders of our Churches, the pastors, vicars and curates of our day; but also to reflect on the leaders of our communities and country as we come into a General Election. What is the motivation we can ask of those who would offer themselves for public office?
So what does it feel like to be a sheep?
We are I think extraordinarily fortunate as Christian people to know something different from the secular and that is a personal revelation and relationship with our Shepherd who cares for us and knows us by name and gives us insight into God’s will. This means that we can often discern the good leader, the servant leader, the caring leader rather than the leader seeking power and authority. We are given insight through Christ of right character and given the responsibility to be salt and to be light amongst our friends, families and communities.
So what does it feel like to be a sheep?
The apostles and disciples and first believers of Jesus Christ, the revelation and saving presence of God in our world, certainly felt a privilege, a new and exciting way of life under the care of Christ. They established the foundations of the Church, the essential elements to know this insight from God, to know his will through Christ. (Acts 2:42-47)
The baptised believers came together and devoted themselves to teaching from the apostles, to learn more about Christ and his teaching for the world and this responsibility for teaching is passed down in prayer and anointing to clergy and pastors today. Without this element we become subject to the teaching of the world and not of God.
They came together in fellowship, they were people who cared for one another and shared with one another, they would not desert one another and they loved one another deeply, despite their faults, they share the love of God between one another and we have taken this and extended it into our model for Pastoral link. Without this element we become superficial human beings in our world striving and searching for satisfaction and joy in things that will disappear and perish.
They came together and broke bread, they shared Holy Communion, remembering Christ’s sacrifice for them and meeting Christ in the bread and the wine. They relive the Easter message of the cross, placing it as central to their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one and only sacrifice for the sins of the world. They meet the holy and the heavenly as Christ’s love beaks into our world.
They came together and prayed seeking God’s will through his Holy Spirit and bringing their needs to extend his kingdom on earth. Prayer together is so essential to our Christian life, without this element we don’t hear Christ calling us, we don’t put our trust in him and we don’t know what it is to serve and to be empowered for God’s work.
How lucky we are to be able to come together in the same way in our Church today, to be people of Christ here on earth. How does it feel to be a sheep?
At our annual meeting this year we revealed the priorities for St David’s discerned by the PCC in prayer and discussion. These priorities will be rolled out for us over the next few years, but our number one priority was to see extended prayer amongst us.
This especially meant extending our prayer life to offer from those who are called, a ministry of wholeness and healing to take place during our services. It meant encouraging us to pray together using the vehicles of prayer triplets, Morning Prayer, home groups and ½ days of prayer. It is to encourage us to pray on retreats and quiet days.
If your prayer triplet has stopped meeting, then take responsibility to meet again, if you don’t belong to a triplet then pray about who you might meet with. Prayer is not just for the ladies, this is a movement of the Spirit to men as well to take responsibility to pray together. We are called to pray for those who don’t know Jesus Christ in their lives to come to know him. We are called to pray for the lost.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is again being held throughout this country and throughout the world and throughout Christian denominations to encourage a wave of prayer between Ascension Day and Pentecost for our friends and families and communities to come to know Christ. Here at St David’s we will be opening up our Church for prayer with material to encourage us.
We hold regular ½ days of prayer to call us together and we publish prayer topics on the back of each newsletter for groups to pray in silence or out loud together. Taking part brings us the vital element of knowing God’s call and to know what it is to serve our Lord and to be empowered by his Spirit for his work, and to see others come to know him. We can expect to be in awe and wonder at Christ’s work amongst us.
We are so fortunate as Christian people to know something different from the secular and that is a personal revelation and relationship with our Shepherd who cares for us and knows us by name and gives us insight into God’s will. If we come together with a generous, praiseworthy heart, as part of the flock for teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and for prayer, we will see our Church grow.
So how does it feel to be a sheep?