Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Truth About Sheep

I know a little about sheep, having lived in a rural area for a short while.  I know a little about sheep, but unfortunately, I have used all of my (few) good sheep stories in the years since then.  So you have all heard about the time I walked out of the door of the church one Friday morning and saw a small group of sheep standing in the church parking lot, with kind of blank looks on their faces.  And of course, I may have mentioned that though most of the members of my parish were farmers, only two of them kept sheep.  The others were dead set against them.  My small neice came to visit one year and asked one the farmers why they didn't have sheep on their farm.  "I can't tell you," the farmer told her sweetly.  "Why not?" she said.  "It isn't nice."

I've also heard any number of sermons about the dubious character of sheep.  They are not the brightest animals in the barn.  They are stubborn.  They are disobedient.  They have a habit of getting lost.  And then of course, we are all supposed to make the connection:  we too are wandering, disobedient and stubborn.

But sometimes I think sheep get a bum rap.  It's not that I want to white-wash sheep, it's just that I wonder if we miss the point of the gospel if we focus solely on the deficiencies of sheep.  Or us.

Have you noticed, that almost everybody has opinions about what you and I need, what you and I need to be fulfilled people, to live a good life? be continued


Linda McMillan said...

For me the big problem with thinking of ourselves as sheep is that we are making ourselves a different species. Jesus was not a very big, very good sheep. He was a human being and he made us his friends, not his flock, not his pets... friends. So while I acknowledge that I am sometimes a very confused, disobedient, difficult human being, I would never say that I am a sheep. Maybe I share certain characteristics of sheep, but I am not one.

This is why is is so very wrong and bad for clergy to refer to fellow Christians as "my flock," or "my sheep." For one thing, they do not own us, and for another thing they are not of a different, presumably higher, species. I've never heard you do that, I am just pointing it out.

Personally, I've got nothing against sheep as long as they are in somebody else's pasture or on the bar-be-que.

Diane said...

though I do not refer to people as "my flock" certainly the people in my first (rural) congregations referred to themselves as my flock. which was interesting. I've always thought of ministry as more of a partnership. But, I'm sure they had a reason for why this was a good way of talking about it for them.

After all, it is a metaphor.