Merlin, our church's building and grounds supervisor, also raises sheep. When lambing season comes around, he tries to be on hand for every birth, knowing that even a small problem could result in the loss of a lamb. Each is precious to him, and not just monetarily. I can tell that by the gentleness in his voice as he describes his work, which often involves all hours of the night. I am convinced that they respond well to him.
Are we able to hear Jesus' voice because we are his sheep, or are we his sheep because we hear Jesus' voice? When my Confirmation students hear a question such as this they know how to answer: "Yes!" We respond to the life-giving call of the Good Shepherd and we grow deeper into that life as he cares for us each day.
Shepherding God, help us to hear your voice in the midst of the clamor of our world, so that we may follow your life-giving way. Amen.
John 10:22-30 (NRSV)
22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter,
23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.
24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me;
26 "but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.
27 "My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
28 "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.
29 "What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand.
30 "The Father and I are one."