Monday, May 5, 2014

Shepherds of the Flock


Jeremiah 23:1  Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. 2  Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. 3  Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4  I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.
Jer 23:28  Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? says the LORD.

Jeremiah Chapter 23 contrasts bad shepherds with the servants of the Lord. The bad shepherds scatter the flock, causing fear and disunity. The good shepherds gather the flock, calming fear, and speaking faith. Jeremiah is reflecting on the difficult task of leadership, lamenting those leaders who do not follow the advice of the Lord. Here he is speaking specifically to King Zedekiah who in 590 BC decided to withhold tribute to Babylonian Empire, against the advice of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 27:4-8). The shepherds of Judah were making policy decisions that placed the people in danger – and history showed that because of this, they were driven into exile.

The invitation for today is to think about people we know who have been called by God to be “shepherds” of the flock: presidents, community leaders, pastors. They are fragile human beings called to do a difficult thing. Too often we criticize their frailties, without offering them encouragement. Think of ways in which you can encourage a leader you know to remain faithful to the call of God.

Fair and friend of the fleece spoke
Warrior bold, shepherd wise, fair Prince of Peace
Someone waits in the doorway
On a white horse, he comes and holds out the hand, she waits for

So they ride through a valley of mist
To a castle in the Heavens
Where he lays her down to rest.........
Genesis - The Shepherd Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Fourth  Sunday of Easter
The Good Shepherd
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 160.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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