The shepherd cares for his sheep

Hello everyone!  This morning I walked down to church as I did
not have anyone needing a lift and although it was cloudy and had rained
overnight it remained fine.  The service
was led by the chair of our Leeds District Rev. Elizabeth Smith for Women’s
Sunday.  She is a good speaker and came
down to speak with the children, which I think is the best way to get close to
them.  She asked them if they enjoyed
making things and there were many suggestions including a mess!  Some gifts they liked to give as presents
usually to give to family members, notably their parents.  She encouraged them to be creative and talked
later of The Dorcas groups who help people in the community usually making
clothes; these Dorcas groups have been inspired by Dorcas, described in Acts 9,
who made clothes for widows and those in need; she died and Peter prayed for
her healing, as she was very much loved in the community and she was restored
to them. 


The sermon was centred
on women’s work and she reminded us that there were many women in the Bible who
were leaders in the church, as is often forgotten in the church.  She shared with us how until recently she
found the illustration of the Shepherd of the sheep not so meaningful to her.
She saw the role of shepherd as a more male role and anyway when she was in
urban ministry she did not see the relevance of the story to her own life.  When she was in rural ministry she felt
unequal to task of preaching on the subject, as she felt her congregation would
have a far greater understanding and knowledge of sheep and shepherding than
she did.  However a few months ago she
was on a walk in the dales, when she came across some sheep being shepherded by
two shepherds on quad bikes!  The leading
quad bike led the way whilst the other came up the rear of the speeding sheep.  The leading shepherd on the quad bike stopped
and asked her if she would point the sheep in the right direction, when they
came to a fork in the road, as he would be at the front to open the gate!  She asked if the sheep would they do as she
indicated and the shepherd replied, ‘O yes!’ In some trepidation she waited at
the junction as the sheep careered towards her and hesitantly pointed the way
for the sheep and much to her relief they went in the indicated direction.  Later in a walk she saw a signpost pointing
out where there were sheepfolds and was fascinated to see the remains of
shepherd’s huts in the centre of folds made with stone to keep the sheep
sheltered and protected.  Now the
illustration came alive for her when she pointed the way for the sheep and
thought of her ministry of guiding the ‘sheep’ the church as she is in a place
of authority.  She also saw the
importance of the sheep folds providing safety for the sheep under the watchful
eye of the shepherd.  We in the church
are to be there to provide a refuge for those who are floundering in life; we
are to love and care for them, protecting their vulnerability.  She talked at length in an interesting way
but the part I most remember as being relevant to me were her illustrations of
the shepherd caring for the sheep.


I have always found the
picture of Jesus as the good shepherd particularly helpful to me as a woman, as
he is prepared to seek for me if I am lost and wants to bring me back to the
safety of the sheepfold.  He will never
rest until I am safe.  This is the day
that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.

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