December 1st–– the Sheep
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Lk. 1:13-15)
Reflection (Andrew Zhao):
Did you know that sheep are the most referenced animal in the entirety of the Bible? Yeah, didn’t think so. It’s no big deal–– just number one over here.
Most folks are probably familiar with the story of me getting lost from the ninety–nine in my flock. Yeah, that one–– embarrassing. But here’s the bright side––my shepherd loved me so much he left all the others to find me. I know to you it’s just a ‘parable’, but to me, it actually happened. Again, no big deal.
The truth is sheep get a bad rap. People assume we’re defenseless, prone to wander, and have no real sense of direction. And… they’re right. Those things are, really, true. And, sure we were regularly used as sacrificial animals, and the shepherding industry was actually considered one of the lowliest occupations one could have, but…
Jesus is regularly referred to as shepherd. And, God’s people were regularly referred to as his sheep. Why would God call people that if we’re so ‘lost’ and a shepherd is considered ‘lowly’?
Well…for exactly those reasons. I honestly hate feeling lost. I love being with my flock–– my community–– and I do need my shepherd. It means something to me that he is with me and cares about me. And it means something to me that our God in heaven chose to lower God’s self–– to become lowly–– and to show up in a manger. That is the depth of God’s love. That’s…
…actually a big deal.
Where in your own story have you felt lost or lonely? What does it mean to you that God lowers Godself to find us?
God of patience, we ask that you seek out your people, that you find us when we go astray, and that you comfort us while we wait for you.