Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

While backpacking in the high alpine meadows of Montana, the group a friend of mine was leading was awoken in the early morning hours when a band of 500+ sheep came wandering through their campsite.  The counselor hustled out of his tent to find the sheep and a few of dogs patrolling the perimeter as they grazed their way across the campsite, making quite a mess of things.  What he didn’t find was any person until quite a while after the sheep and dogs had moved on.

Eventually a man appeared, clearly dressed the part of a backcountry shepherd.  His weathered face was squinting as he approached the confused counselor.  “Those must be your sheep that came through here,” suggested the counselor.  “Yeah, as long as I can hear them, I know where they are and just hope the dogs are watching out.”  “Say,” added the shepherd, “You haven’t come across any eyeglasses by chance?”

I told the story of the short-sighted shepherd back in 2018 when we last encountered John’s narrative of Jesus the Good Shepherd.  “Don’t be like Festus!” was the title of my sermon that week – Festus was that shepherd’s name.  The corollary to this message is “Don’t follow shepherds like Festus!”  There are many who love to take charge and lead.  But if they can’t see where we’re going, why would anyone follow? 

Who are the leaders in your life that you are called to follow?  Which ones can see where they’re going, and which ones need to go find their glasses?  For us who try to follow Jesus, the good news is that we can trust that the pathways and pastures to which Jesus directs will be exactly the places we need to be.

May God’s peace come to you this day. -Pastor Peter

Let us pray…

Good Shepherd,
Teach us to follow you:
to care for all that are close to us,
to protect those who are threatened,
to welcome those who are rejected,
to forgive those who are burdened by guilt,
to heal those who are broken and sick,
to share with those who have little or nothing,
to take the time to really know one another
and love as you have loved us.

Good Shepherd,
Teach us to follow you:
to spread compassion to those who are far away,
to speak for those who are voiceless,
to defend those who are oppressed and abused,
to work for justice for those who are exploited,
to make peace for those who suffer violence,
to take the time to recognize our connectedness,
and to love as you have loved us.

Good Shepherd,
Teach us to follow you
and to be faithful to calling you gave us
to be shepherds in your name.

Amen.

“Prayer of the Good Shepherd,” -Mennonite Brethren