“I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me.”
– John 10:14 Common English Bible
Good Shepherd Sunday. The Fourth Sunday of Easter. (Did you know that Easter Season in the church lasts 50 days?) Every year there is a reading from John 10.
“I have other sheep that don’t belong to this sheep pen. I must lead them too…there will be one flock, with one shepherd.”
– John 10:16 Common English Bible
Although it wasn’t part of the reading this year, I found myself thinking about the “other sheep” mentioned in verse 16. It may be my favorite line in John 10. Jesus has other sheep. I find that strangely comforting.
Jesus’ fold is ever so much larger than what I see in any of the communities in which I worship. People – Christian and non-Christian – who don’t believe as I believe. People whose faith experiences are unlike mine. People who worship God in ways foreign to my experience, who call God by other names, who follow entirely different religious paths. People who don’t look like me or dress like me or think like me or speak like me or (fill in the blank)________________. I cannot, must not count anyone out. Jesus counts them all in. One flock with more variety than most of us can imagine.
“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing …
“You set a table for me right in front of my enemies.”
– Psalm 23:1, 5a Common English Bible
Here’s the thing about this table in front of our enemies: our enemies are at table, too. And they’re probably not at another table. There are no clear lines of separation; there is no segregation. The Good Shepherd is host; friend and foe alike are all seated at the same table.
“Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the Lord’s house
as long as I live.”
– Psalm 23:1, 5a, 6 Common English Bible
Good Shepherd Sunday and Mother’s Day coincided this year here in the U.S. It reminded me of Bobby McFerrin’s beautiful version of Psalm 23 – a tribute to his mother. Here’s one I found in cyberspace.