Sunday, July 22, 2012

Help Wanted

Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD.  Jeremiah 23:1

Anytime you see the word 'woe' in Scripture, you know it can't be good.  Someone is about to get a whoopin'.  There is a recurrent theme in the Old Testament about shepherds who do not care for the flock.  God was rather clear about the character traits of the shepherd.  In fact, if God needed to post a job ad, it might look something like this:

Wanted: One good shepherd who will keep the flock together and care for its every need.  Must have: some veterinarian skills (i.e. tending wounds), knowledge of how to use a shepherd’s crook, and know the locations of good pastures and fresh water.  Do not apply if you intend to swindle the owner of the flock!  If this sounds like the job for you please send resume to: YHWH, Lord of all Creation… 

Yet, time and time again, those who were to guard the flock, the people of Israel, did just the opposite.  And, it's not as though the people of the ancient Near East didn't know what a shepherd was to do.  The Code of Hammurabi, dates back to 1772 B.C. and a significant portion of it deals with contracts between flock owners and shepherds.  A contract was to protect both the owner and the shepherd; the covenants between God and Israel worked in the same way.  Israel broke the covenants.  

 (The Code of Hammurabi, Louvre Museum, Paris)

Finally, God had to come and set things right.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the shepherd who cares so much for the flock that he laid down his life for the flock.  Today's passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians (2:13-18) highlights how Jesus made everything right between God and humanity.  It is through Christ that we are able to come near to God the Father.  The Good Shepherd, leads us to green pastures and restful waters, protects us in times of distress, and eventually to the House of the Lord (Psalm 23).  

The Good Shepherd is no longer with us physically which creates a need for shepherds who are willing to follow his example.  

Wanted: A loving, caring minister to guide and pasture the flock.  Must have: passion for all God’s people, dedicated to prayer, like hard work, and not afraid to embrace the Cross of Christ.  Do not apply if you think ministry is about you; it’s all about God.  If this sounds like the job for you, don’t worry, God will find you.

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