I recently attended a Nativity play held by the pre-school group of a local Congregational Church. As part of the programme, the daughter of the Youth Leader gave a sermon on the role of the shepherds in the story of the birth of Jesus. She made a big point about how the living conditions and the wages of a shepherd were rubbish and as far as she was concerned, their lives were meaningless until Jesus was born. The mere act of his birth gave them hope that they could be redeemed and live better lives through him. That's how she interpreted this aspect of the story told in Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke.
 
To me, she seems to have missed the entire point of the shepherds' story so I thought I'd share my opinion with you all to see if there was some resonance. It is true that a shepherd's life is (and was) not an easy one. The wages are generally poor and there is often a need to battle wild creatures and experience harsh weather conditions in order to tend the flock. When the angels delivered the news of Jesus' birth to the shepherds, they were said to have proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests”.
 
But why favour the shepherds instead of those from another profession? The selfless dedication to duty is one of the aspects that I feel is important. Specifically, the fact that a shepherd is expected to endure all of the hardships in order to protect those that are more vulnerable. Whether this be a flock of sheep or a congregation, the job description is the same.
 
Jesus himself is quoted in the Gospel of John (10:14-15) as saying: “I am the Good Shepherd: I know my own and my own know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep”. Jesus provided inspiration in the way he lived his own life – many Christians believe that he set an example to follow and in that quote we clearly see that example mirrored in the duties of an actual shepherd: to be prepared to lay down one's life (in actuality or in terms of time and effort) in service of those who are in need.
 
With this in mind, is it any wonder that shepherds were chosen to stand amongst kings and angels in witnessing the birth of Jesus? By inviting such “lowly men” to this incredible event, the message is given that anyone who follows the Christ shall be exalted in Heaven but deeper still is the notion that following the ways of Jesus means to be as a shepherd.
 
A shepherd's life is not to be pitied or ridiculed. Their “hope” lies not just in blind faith but in the deep-rooted knowledge that they are giving all they can to protect and support those less fortunate or capable than themselves.
 
So perhaps we need to ask ourselves this same question: who are we serving and why? Do we blindly follow a designated path or do we need to stop and consider where our hearts and our compassion lay? If we are not serving our true calling are we really able to serve anyone at all? If we are not able to tend our sheep, to know them by name and to serve their everyday needs, do we have any right to call ourselves shepherds? If we are one of the flock, do we crave the security of conformity or the comfort of the personal touch?
 
As with most aspects of most holy books, these parables and notions serve as a reflection of deeper understandings. What are your own thoughts on the subject?
 
 
 

Comments (11)

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[hide]To understand the role of a shepherd, we must first understand what the shepherd means, other than to herd sheep... <br /> In actuality, "the good shepherd" was the pharaoh of Egypt who ruled with a staff and iron rod... (The crook and the...

[hide]To understand the role of a shepherd, we must first understand what the shepherd means, other than to herd sheep... <br /> In actuality, "the good shepherd" was the pharaoh of Egypt who ruled with a staff and iron rod... (The crook and the flail...) Osiris... Psalms 23 <br />So therefore, the symbolism has been borrowed... For Christians of the time to better accept Christ, and a new religion. Are the sheep being lead to the slaughter, or a nice pasture???<br />Matthew 10:16<br />These are just my thoughts, where I understand the subject... Please do not persecute me!!! ;-) <br />P.E.A.C.E[/hide]

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Is it good to be a sheep, but the shepherd is very good?<br />  I know it's a metaphor and well one receives education but beware! that fanaticism may be lurking.

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I often ask similar questions about the political and social environments we find ourselves in. Who are the shepherds, and where are they leading us? What are their intentions, and are they honorable? Why do we follow them? Would it be wise to...

I often ask similar questions about the political and social environments we find ourselves in. Who are the shepherds, and where are they leading us? What are their intentions, and are they honorable? Why do we follow them? Would it be wise to seek another path at the risk of ending up alone?<br />This is why I have a huge amount of respect for military personnel in that they have to make these judgments everyday as they put their lives at risk to protect "the flock". Those that willingly and selflessly serve in combat to protect my freedom in these perilous times are truly the shepherds and I am grateful for them.

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That was Beautiful… <br /> <br />Your words touch my heart, inspire and encourage. Perhaps the Knights should change our title to “shepherd.” <br /> <br />Thank you.

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Great sermon, thank you!!!

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Llama...<br /><br />There are 'good shepherds' and 'bad shepherds'... All cannot be judged by a few....;)<br /><br />Or all of us Jedi are hoodie wearing, lightsaber wielding trouble makers, lolol...<br /><br />Thank you GM Mark...<br /><br />It...

Llama...<br /><br />There are 'good shepherds' and 'bad shepherds'... All cannot be judged by a few....;)<br /><br />Or all of us Jedi are hoodie wearing, lightsaber wielding trouble makers, lolol...<br /><br />Thank you GM Mark...<br /><br />It flows with one of my favorite sayings, and that is, "we are all here to help each other"....

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I've read through this several times and still can't think of the right words to go along with the thoughts and feelings it brings up - so I'll simply say thank you with all my heart

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[hide]I understand, Jestor. <br />The origin of the word was what I was simply pointing out... At times we play all these roles, the sheep, the shepherd, and the wolf... <br />I do not mean to be the boy who cries wolf.. :-x <br />What about the...

[hide]I understand, Jestor. <br />The origin of the word was what I was simply pointing out... At times we play all these roles, the sheep, the shepherd, and the wolf... <br />I do not mean to be the boy who cries wolf.. :-x <br />What about the wolf in sheep's clothing, or the wolf who plays shepherd? Are these not important aspects to this myth, which need to be addressed, considered, or looked into??? These are just questions about the true self... Can a sheep wear wolves clothing? Can a sheep wear shepherds clothing?? We are who we are, and some choose to be something they are not, and deceive others...<br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_in_sheep's_clothing[/hide]

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By the way, I appreciate the contemplation accompanied with this sermon, thank you.

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Ah, my bad then Llama...<br /><br />:)

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