25 April was Good Shepherd Sunday, and our pew sheet intentionally included this image. But Rev Dr Michael Paterson urged us to get real: “Have you ever seen sheep as clean as that? Where’s the matted wool? Where’s the caked-in mud? Where’s the swarm of flies? Where are the fleas? And where’s the incessant baaing as the lamb wriggles to get free?”
He continued: “In the midst of a personal and global pandemic: We need a shepherd who doesn’t need us to come clean and tidy in our Sunday best. We need a shepherd who is familiar with the dirt and the dung, the mess and the muddle. We need a shepherd who gets up close and personal even when we stink or bleed or are covered in sores. We need a shepherd who doesn’t give up on us when we lock horns with Him and resist his advances.
“This year, more than ever, we need a Shepherd who accepts and embraces our bruised and battered bodies and our even more bruised and battered souls and mental health – we need a God who doesn’t approach us in a mask, or gloves or PPE.
“And we need to tell a better story than the sanitized and disinfected versions for which the Church has become known … a story of a God who entered the world in the muck of a manger, got up close and personal to those who were suffering, and whose life ended – not between two silver candlesticks – but in a bloody mess on the cross.”
He urged us to “consign the anodyne and sanitized Jesus to history and let’s hear it for the real Shepherd, the dusty, sweaty, unwashed Jesus, who gets up close and personal, down and dirty with people like you and I who know we need Him” and to tell a story of a Shepherd worthy of the title ‘GOOD’.”
Read Michael’s full sermon at this link.