A Reflection by the Vicar on the 4th Sunday of Easter.
As many of you know, I am really fortunate in that my house looks out over some wonderful countryside, living as we do almost at the top of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Two or three times a day we see in the fields a short distance away, our local farmer, Peter, driving around in his 4×4 checking on his sheep. Peter is a good shepherd.
The gospel passage for our main services this weekend from Saint John’s gospel in which Jesus likens himself to a shepherd. He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me and I lay down my life for the sheep”. I am not sure whether Peter would lay down his life for his sheep, but he is certainly committed to his flock
His style of shepherding might be different to shepherds at the time of Jesus (4×4’s were not around at the time of Jesus) but the basic principles are the same. The shepherd cares for his sheep, he protects them and he nurtures them.
Jesus also said “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep fold”. He was there for everyone no matter what fold they were from.
During the past year, we have seen communities coming together. People from different areas and walks of life committing themselves to helping others no matter what fold they are from. Some folk do it openly, whereas others keep their generosity in the background. One area where this help has been seen recently is in the growth of foodbanks. Whilst those who volunteer in this area are to be applauded, it is shameful that foodbanks exist. 21st century Britons should not have to rely on such charity in order to put food on the table and the question needs to be asked about what can be done to bring an end to such need.
But that generosity has been a life saver for some. And poverty is as much a “wolf” attacking the flock now as those four legged wolves were on a Bethlehem hillside two thousand years ago.
But we also remember the words of Jesus, “what ever you do for the least of my brethren, you do it on to me…”. Sobering words, indeed.