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Lent reflection Cover Image

The good Shepherd, John 10:11-18

24th Mar 2019

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takesit from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” (NRSV)

 shepherd

 

There are many references and images to the idea of the Good Shepherd in Art and Literature. I am a great fan of C S Forester and his many naval stories including Hornblower. A lesser known book is “The Good Shepherd”, a story based during the War of the Atlantic. In it “the shepherd”, Commander George Krause of the US Navy is the captain of the destroyer Keeling, his job is to protect his “sheep”, an Atlantic Convoy of thirty-seven ships and three thousand lives, from the “wolves”, the German U Boats. At the end of the story he handed over thirty; seven had been lost. “Heavy losses, no doubt, but convoys had known even heavier than that.”

Christ is the Good Shepherd and the image that I like of The Good Shepherd is that portrayed by Del Parson. In it he shows the shepherd carrying his sheep when they are struggling whilst at the same time still leading the rest of his flock.

The image reminds me of the poem Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

other times there were one set of footprints.

 

This bothered me because I noticed

that during the low periods of my life,

when I was suffering from

anguish, sorrow or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

 

So, I said to the Lord,

"You promised me Lord,

that if I followed you,

you would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during

the most trying periods of my life

there have only been one

set of footprints in the sand.

Why, when I needed you most,

you have not been there for me?"

 

The Lord replied,

"The times when you have

seen only one set of footprints,

is when I carried you."

 

© 1984 Mary Stevenson, from original 1936 text, all rights reserved)

Finally, we must all remember that Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” At the end of Lent, we remember that great sacrifice of the Good Shepherd.

Trevor Peel, St John's Operations Director