Sunday, August 4, 2013

Following the Flock

My sister in law, Jenny, is trustee in the little village of Owego. She took my folks and me to the lovely historic Evergreen Cemetery where she has instituted a clever new lawn mowing service to the very hilly, difficult to mow grounds. The village receives sheep on loan from a local sheep farm, and the sheep are employed to mow the cemetery. Jenny says it is working beautifully, though the sheep are getting very fat. Five new sheep were added to the mowing crew on the day that we arrived to see them. Unfortunately, the new sheep were very scared about the new surroundings, or perhaps spooked by the cemetery spirits, and refused to leave their pen. They huddled in a back corner, looking very worried.

The two veteran mowing sheep were quite willing to leave the pen, and eagerly lapped up the oatmeal we brought for them to eat. However, as soon as we moved very far from the pen, where the huddled five remained, the veteran sheep bleated, and when the frightened flock didn't come, the veterans returned to the pen with them.

The veteran sheep knew there was nothing to fear outside the pen, were likely hungry having not left the grassless pen all day, and yet, they remained with the flock. The veteran sheep, outnumbered, were still the ones the flock should have followed. But instead, the veteran sheep followed the silly, huddled, and frightened flock.

I can hear the conversation now. The sheep huddled in the back, hungry and afraid, are convinced that to leave the pen means death.
"No," insist the veteran sheep, "We have been leaving the pen every day for a month now. Not only does nothing bad happen, but we are rewarded with 100 acres of some of the tastiest grass you will process through your 4-chambered stomach. If you stay here in the pen, you will starve. There is no food in the pen, and none is coming. Outside this prison is a whole field of food...just follow us! Come, eat, and be satisfied!"

"No," bleat the huddled unbelievers, "You are self righteous, arrogant beasts with heads full of wool! Who are you to try to tell us what will satisfy or that your way is the only way we will get fed! There are five of us and only two of you! Why should we believe you about something we have never seen?"

"Never seen! Are you daft?! Look through the fence - all around you the evidence is clear. You just have to leave your fears and pride behind, and step outside what you believe to be your world. I am telling you, my wooly friends, you choose to remain here and you will perish. But if you follow me, you will have everlasting food and abundant life. Come!"

We tried to cajole the frightened sheep out of the pen. The veteran sheep tried to urge the frightened sheep out of the pen. They were watching and considering when we left, but had not yet made the choice. I am praying for the sheep, such sweet, soft, and fluffy souls.


So Jesus said again, "What I'm about to tell you is true. I am like a gate for the sheep. All those who ever came before me were thieves and robbers. But the sheep did not listen to them. I'm like a gate. Anyone who enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out. And he will find plenty of food. "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me. They know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I give my life for the sheep. "I have other sheep that do not belong to this sheep pen. I must bring them in too. They also will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:7-9, 14-16 NIRV)

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said... (Mark 1:17 NIV)

-save a dog-

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