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Today's Lectionary Text
Micah 7:8-20Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
I must bear the indignation of the Lord,
because I have sinned against him,
until he takes my side
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall see his vindication.
Then my enemy will see,
and shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will see her downfall;
now she will be trodden down
like the mire of the streets.
A day for the building of your walls!
In that day the boundary shall be far extended.
In that day they will come to you
from Assyria to Egypt,
and from Egypt to the River,
from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
But the earth will be desolate
because of its inhabitants,
for the fruit of their doings.
Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock that belongs to you,
which lives alone in a forest
in the midst of a garden land;
let them feed in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
show us marvelous things.
The nations shall see and be ashamed
of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
their ears shall be deaf;
they shall lick dust like a snake,
like the crawling things of the earth;
they shall come trembling out of their fortresses;
they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God,
and they shall stand in fear of you.
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.
He will again have compassion upon us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and unswerving loyalty to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors
from the days of old.
I think every nursery I’ve been in at a church has at least one mural of sheep, a stuffed sheep, or some other sheep-related toy in it. We learn from our earliest days about the good shepherd watching over us. King David was a shepherd and was chosen by God. We learn a good shepherd goes out of his way to bring the missing sheep back into the fold. We sing songs about sheep, hear sermons comparing people to sheep. It’s not flattering, but it’s not exactly wrong either.
Sheep aren’t the smartest animals. They haven’t exactly gained a reputation for being clever or discerning. Sheep need to be taken care of. You don’t typically hear about roaming herds of sheep. We don’t worry about hitting a sheep on the road because they are native around here. They have been domesticated for centuries and require a caretaker.
Have you seen a sheep that has gone years without a shearing? It shows up in the news every once in a while about a sheep that escaped its shepherd, and they shear a pile of wool off it. Thanks to Google I know why this is a bad thing. The sheep will suffer from not being sheared, not being tended to. Without being sheared a sheep can’t regulate its temperature properly in the warmer times of the year, matted and tangled wool can constrict blood flow in limbs, cause painful sores and keep a sheep from moving properly. A sheep can go blind because the wool grows over its eyes.
Thanks to my nephew I do know not all sheep breeds are wooly and some are in fact raised for meat, but I think the principle remains the same.
When I wander away from God it gets itchy. It’s uncomfortable, painful, I can get stuck and blind. And after I wander back, or I’m found all of that mess gets sheared away. We start the dance again, I stray, get tangled up and there God is, ready to clean me up, set me back on my feet and point me in the way I should go.
So yes, although I’m not fond of the comparison it is apt. I get lost, I bleat out a plea for help and my Shepherd comes and finds me and points me in the right direction. For that I am eternally grateful.
Communications administrative assistant
Prayer for Reflection
Good Shepherd, thank you for the ways you seek me out even when I don’t know I’m lost. You are right there waiting for me, always there to take me baaaaack.
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