Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
Like the lost sheep, we may have been lost in ourselves, but from the start we have always been found in him.
— Robert Farrar Capon
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Some go blithely among the hills,
the sun shines warm upon their backs.
Some are in the thickets and brambles.
Others have strayed and are alone —
do they know it? Some are with young.
Some bleat loudly as if to protest.
Some are soiled. Some are scarred.
Some are lighter. Some are darker.
Some run. Some follow. Some push.
Most of them keep their head down,
picking clover and the wild ramps.
All of them possess a certain sheep smell,
though some are more pungent than others.
One of them (and isn’t there always one?)
is interested in you. It twitches an ear
and comes toward you. That sheep is you.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” the ancient psalm testifies, and Jesus had that in his mind when he said “I am the good shepherd.”
And also when he told one of his patented yarns (Luke 15) which featured among a hundred sheep, ONE that turned up missing. Which happens to also be you. And me. And all of us, if we’re honest. Anytime we get out of sorts, wander off, get lost or left behind. Or mad, or hurt, or in over our head.
I wonder if our prayers sound like bleating to God.
Jesus’ parable concludes not when the search and rescue is reported successful and there is homecoming, but when the celebration commences. The sheep is found and all the villagers and farmers on far pastures, and friends (and passersby, I imagine) have a big party. Perhaps you aren’t the sheep in this instance, but you are the passerby, invited to the party to witness the whole affair.
I have no idea of how big God’s pasture is. But I do have an idea that in the end, it’s all God’s pasture.
Lord, when we are content and we know it: Thank you for providing. And when we are lost and don’t know it: Thank you for searching for us. And when we are in distress: Thank you for hearing us. And for wherever and whenever we may find ourselves: Thank you for loving us. Amen.
HYMN: SAVIOR, LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US
Here’s a fitting rendition of the old hymn, “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us” performed by a couple friends of mine in Frankfort, KY: John Avent, saxophone, and Roland Herzel, organ. This was recorded on May 7, 2020 at South Frankfort Presbyterian Church. Perhaps it would be what you might hear in the mellowing afterglow of the party as things are winding down.
Play it here!
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.
Words: Dorothy Thrupp, 1836
Tune: William Bradbury, 1859
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Thanks to John and Roland and also to Maureen, who helped. Read about Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us. Robert Farrar Capon quote from “More Theology & Less Heavy Cream: The Domestic Life of Pietro & Madeleine.”