By Debbonnaire Kovacs, April 22, 2015 Based on Psalm 23 and John 10:11-18. It’s spring! My twins are bouncing along beside me like little balls of wool with long, gangly legs. I don’t bounce that much anymore, being an old ewe of nearly eight years, but I do feel the stirring in my blood and quicken my pace a bit. The shepherd, pacing along ahead of us with his crook, seems to have a bit of spring in his step as well. He is whistling. I like it when he whistles.
I remember when I was a little, bouncy lamb myself, leaping along near my mother, as she calmly followed him along. He always found us the greenest grass he could, but spring grass is the best. Ah, yes! Here we are. Come along, children, you need to begin learning to nibble at the grass…Oh, all right, but don’t butt me so hard, will you? The milk will come without quite such strenuous effort on your part. Ouch! Oh, yum, good grass makes good milk…
That’s better. Now we can lie down and rest…
…Time for a drink. I lift my head and see that, as usual, the shepherd is way ahead of me; he’s already making a little temporary dam of stones to make the water still so it’s fit for drinking. I’ve seen some animals gulp away at the swift, splashing water, but I don’t know how they can stand it!
Come, children, the shepherd is up and moving. Time to move on. Oh-oh, we’re going through that narrow, rocky place. I hate that! Stay close, now, stop your dashing around. You can play more when we’re through it. Don’t worry, the shepherd is with us. Do you see that long stick he carries? Believe me, he’ll see any wolf or mountain lion long before we do, and he’ll take care of it! And if one of us gets stuck, he’ll pull us out with his crook, but you stick to me, and don’t get stuck to begin with! Shh, I know it’s dark…Oh, look, the shepherd is coming. He’ll carry you, little ones.
I walk along beside him, my head lifted to watch him cradle my children. I remember when he used to carry me the same way. It’s not so dark. I’ve seen worse.
Aha! Now, see, wasn’t it worth it? Just look at this feast of grass and clover and dandelions! No king ever feasted better than this. If there are any wolves or mountain lions watching, they’ll just be jealous. Not of grass, of course, but of our good care. They don’t have a shepherd like we do, poor things. They have to watch out for themselves.
Ready for a nap? Listen, I’ll tell you a story. Once, when I was a little lamb like you, the shepherd left us with a hired hand, and when the wolves came, he ran away! Can you believe it? The sheep were all yelling, running this way and that. I lost my mother, and was screaming in fear, leaping so frantically that I fell and hit my head on a stone, when the shepherd ran up. He beat the wolves away (sent the hired man away with some strong words, too) and gathered us all up. He anointed the hurt places and calmed everyone down. I still remember the hug I got, and how the oil he put on my bruised head ran into my eyes.
Sleep, little ones. We are safe. The shepherd’s love and faithfulness will shape all our days until the end of our lives.