You can listen to today’s devotion by clicking on this SoundCloud link.
“We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.”
Psalm 100:3, The Message
Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley uses Baby-Doll sheep to keep the growth between the rows of vines in check. This particular breed of sheep is too short to reach and eat the pruned vines and more importantly, the clusters of grapes! My wife loves visiting this winery, and not just because we are members. She watches the sheep while I enjoy some wine. She talks to them, too!
I like Eugene Peterson’s The Message. I especially like his treatment of the Psalm verse for today. Too often preachers point out the many failures (and with some, the outright stupidity) of sheep. And then, they make a point about us! The greater truth is, even if these other comparisons are accurate, as God’s sheep we are objects of God’s heart. He has prepared a Festival Feast for his sheep in his Word, and the Word in action in the Eucharist. God loves his sheep!
The Shepherds of ancient Israel loved their sheep. They cared for them, protected them, led them beside cool waters and made sure they grazed in rich pastures. Their labors were in a way prophetic of the Shepherding ministry of the Good Shepherd—our Lord Jesus Christ. In the still-full glow (hopefully) of Easter, we are a people who feast on life, life to the full. Just as Jesus the Good Shepherd promised.
That is why he came, remember. That we may have life, life to the full. For Navarro’s sheep, life to the full includes full bellies. God has placed us in the vineyard of his creation, and of his new creation the Church simultaneously. As I write today, I do so with the knowledge that a dear friend, father, and brother in the faith was called to glory yesterday, the day after Easter. He is among God’s well-tended sheep.
So are we, brothers and sisters. Do not wait for heaven for the Psalmist’s words to be true for you. In Christ, in his Word, Sacrament, and the communion of his Church, they are true already.
Text and picture, copyright Don Schatz