Great Plains Daily Devotional for 4/25/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Andrew Conard
Topeka: Susanna Wesley UMC
Topeka District
Jeff Potter
Perry UMC
Topeka: University UMC
Topeka District
Melinda Harwood
Coal Creek UMC
Ozawkie UMC
Valley Falls UMC
Topeka District
Brenda Hogan
Troy UMC
Wathena UMC
Topeka District

Today's Lectionary Text

John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

Today's Devotional

Clearly Jesus is the good shepherd in this passage. He states that outright. He points out the difference between himself and the hired hand. As the shepherd he will not abandon the sheep, as the hired hand might, should danger appear. He is in it to offer everything he has and is on behalf of the sheep. Clear enough. We are the flock and we are protected, cared for, loved. We are in.

How did I get to be in? How did I get in the flock? Was it just good luck? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did I just tick all the boxes by each requirement by luck? Hmm!
Here Jesus notes that there are sheep outside of this flock. This current set is not complete. The flock can be, and will be expanded. What the flock looks like ultimately may be very different from our vision and expectation.

The newly included ones might not be just those I expect to be added or I want to have brought in. Some others are hiding in really unusual and unexpected places.

Those hiding spots might not even be evident. They might be like within the snooty tenth-grade female brainiac longing to be on the drill team. She is the one who is not popular or cute or coordinated enough to be chosen. Another hiding place might be in a coarse, rude, dangerous setting like under a viaduct where only a little protection from the elements is offered. It is, however, a place someone calls “my space”, even if there is no shower or food there. Someone found in this location might even stink and use scary, fierce language. Another surprising space might be within another world -- the world of another culture. Words might swirl intensely within this group, but the words of the original flock do not make any sense to these others. They are aware only of gibberish and their brains hurt from all the jumbled sounds.

Really, it is not clear who these others are whom Jesus mentions. I can’t even imagine all the possibilities. What is clear is that he intends for others to be included. It seems like if they are to be included we need to help locate them. We need to put our lives on alert, so we can discover some of the others that Jesus intends to invite. Maybe we need to look under some bridges. Perhaps I should try to locate someone who does not understand my culture and help interpret the world with them in ways they might understand. Or, maybe I should venture into their culture. I could even try to get why the fifteen-year-old spends so much time being grumpy and crying.
Would such action on my part convey God’s love and care? Could I be of help in expanding the flock, by reaching out to one of these? What will the flock finally look like? Does it matter if I know? Probably not. Is it important that I join up with the good shepherd in bringing those who are now outside the flock. Certainly. The good shepherd not only desires, but expects such effort from each of us. Let’s get to it!

-Rev. Dianne Tombaugh
Retired diaconal minister

Prayer for Reflection

Good shepherd, Keeper of the flock. Please show us how. Accept our efforts. Bring us each and all nearer to you. Amen


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