Thursday, December 04, 2008

Play Your Hand I

For this week’s shuffle, I spent my time trying to imagine what it was like to be a shepherd. The closest reference I have is camping trips as a kid. Like Erin, I remember nights sitting around the campfire where your backside was freezing and your clothes closest to the fire were scorching hot (although I don’t think I ever melted my shoes).

The sad little photo to the left is of the “fire” I tried to start in an aluminum pan with matches and twigs from my yard. The hope was to recreate the marvelous aroma of a campfire but, as you can see from all the burned and broken matches, the only aroma I appreciated was sulfur. I doubt the shepherd’s of Jesus’ day had the luxury of matches.

From the comments on this contemplation I’ve learned that one woman’s manure is another woman’s rose. Although I tend to think the shepherds had a stinky, lonely job, the descriptions of shepherds in scripture are in tender and loving terms. Their task was more than just labor. This is the way Schweers' Mom describes cleaning out horse stalls and greta lynn hernandez remembers the smell of fresh milk in a barn with a sulfur powered earthen floor. Being a shepherd was more than a job.

He takes me to lush pastures,
he leads me to refreshing water.
Your rod and your staff reassure me. – Psalm 23

Like a shepherd he tends his flock;
he gathers up the lambs with his arm;
he carries them close to his heart;
he leads the ewes along. – Isaiah 40:11

…I will seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day. – Ezekiel 34:12

In emphasis, being without a shepherd is described in negative terms.

And they were scattered, because [there is] no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. – Ezekiel 34:5

Did you have any further insights this week on BARN SMELLS?

Check out what others have thought about this week:
Schweers' Mom
Erin's kids
greta lynn hernandez
Michelle Pendergrass


Sarah said...

I used to ride horses and every time I think of barn smells I think of that...and also how allergic I was to the barn smells. And yet, I went back, week after week, because I loved the horses so much. How much harder, at least in some ways, it must have been for Jesus to come to that barn, and yet he did it because he loved us so much. SO MUCH!

greta lynn hernandez said...

I commented at--

I almost long to have been one of those shepherds who arrived after receiving the angels' news!

Erin said...

This is beautifully woven, Rhonda.

Your post made me think about how hard it would be for a shepherd to do his shepherding job well and still somehow keep himself free from smelling like sheep. He can't do it. They require too much contact, too much intervention, too much hands-on involvement.

I am grateful that our Shepherd did not simply come and sit under a tree reading a book, but that he was willing to get His hands and body filthy and broken on our account.

~michelle pendergrass said...

I did a card and had it all ready to post but forgot because we left town on Wednesday evening.

We stayed in a barn. Well, the top half of a real barn, so I guess I have more to say than I did so I'll be doing that this morning. :)

~michelle pendergrass said...

Mine's up here