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THE GOOD SHEEP DOG

Date: 
April 22, 2018
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
June 10: 11-18

THEME: The sheep dog’s primary role is to keep the sheep always moving toward the

Shepherd.

 

INTRODUCTION

  • The fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday
  • On Good Shepherd Sunday several years ago a young pastor came down from the pulpit for the children’s sermon… he told the children about sheep… he explained to them that sheep really aren’t very smart and need lots of guidance… he told them that the shepherd’s job is to stay close to the sheep in order to protect them from wild animals and to keep them from wandering off and doing dumb things that might get them hurt or killed…
  • Then he pointed to the children and said, “you are like sheep and you will need lots of guidance.”
  • The pastor put his hands out to the side, palms up in a dramatic gesture, and with raised eyebrows said to the children, “If you are the sheep, then who is the shepherd?”
  • A silence of a few seconds followed. Then a youngster said, “Jesus – Jesus is the shepherd.”
  • The young pastor, said to the boy, “Well, then who am I?”
  • The little boy frowned thoughtfully and then said with a shrug, “I guess you must be a sheep dog.”  <Davis>

 

THE PASTOR

  • The pastor is often thought of as “the shepherd of the flock,” but in reality, the pastor is more like a sheep dog than a shepherd…
  • There is only one Shepherd – Jesus… but there are many sheep dogs…
  • It is the job of the sheep dog to keep the sheep always moving toward the shepherd…
  • Months ago the Search and Call Committee asked me for a copy of my job description - a list of the things that I do.
    • My job includes some big things: preaching, teaching, administering the sacraments, visiting, counseling,
    • My job also includes lots of little things, sometimes messy things, that can easily go unnoticed: fixing the copy machine, making coffee, occasionally changing a light bulb or setting up a few chairs, and occasional trips to Staples or BJs.
    • But my real job is to keep the sheep always moving toward the Shepherd…
  • DUC is in a time of transition – during this time of transition we have looked together at where the church has been, where it is now, and where it is going in the future… together we have taken a close look at the strengths and weaknesses of the church…
  • We have discovered that DUC has a proud history, an active presence in the community today, and a bright future… I am confident that the best days of DUC are still be in her future.
  • Today’s sermon is focused on the role of the pastor…
  • Last Sunday, as I greeted people outside before worship, a visitor said, “Good morning, Reverend! Is reverend  your correct title? What should I be calling you? What are you?”
  • I’m often asked that question: “What are you… what do people call you?... are you a reverend?... are you a priest… should I call you ‘Father Terry?’... ... are you a pastor?... are you a minister?”…
  • My usual response is, “People call me Terry and that’s just fine with me.” (My tombstone: “Terry died”  J)
  • When I introduce myself, I usually say that I am a pastor …  (golf story  J)
  • The title pastor comes from a Latin word meaning shepherd or herdsman
    • it is the pastor’s job – going back to Jesus’ commissioning of Peter – to feed the flock…
    • Three times after the resurrection Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15ff)
    • A shepherd is someone who looks after a flock of sheep by providing for their needs and keeping them safe… the shepherd keeps the flock on the right path… he or she is a trustworthy guide… the sheep are greatly comforted by the shepherd’s presence.
  • Shepherding was a key industry of the ancient Israelites. These nomadic people led their flocks from place to place seeking the best pastures and grazing lands for their flocks… it was up to the shepherd to keep his/her eyes on the sheep as they grazed to keep them from danger…
  • Because of the sheep’s dependence upon the shepherd, it seemed natural to come to understand God as the “Shepherd of Israel.”
  • The Old Testament often uses the term Shepherd as a metaphor for God… We see that clearly in Psalm 23.

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

  • In the New Testament, Jesus said to his followers, “I am the Good Shepherd.”  Jesus was the One who would fulfill the role of the Shepherd chosen by God to tend the lambs. (John 10:11)
  • The Gospel reading this morning was from the 10th chapter of John’s Gospel - often called:“The Good Shepherd Chapter.”  
  • When Jesus referred to himself as The Good Shepherd his followers knew exactly what he meant because sheep and shepherds were so very common in Palestine…
  • I love the image of Jesus as The Good Shepherd - with a staff in one hand and a three-week-old lamb tucked under his arm or perhaps standing in the middle of a flock with a newborn lamb draped over his shoulders…
  • So powerful is the image of Jesus as the Shepherd that it came to be the ideal image for pastors – pastors were seen as shepherds and the congregation as the flock… the job of the pastor was to shepherd or lead people into deeper faith, spirituality, and mission. <Hall>
  • I’m not too sure when or how pastors became the CEOs of the churches they serve… and I’m not too sure that being the CEO is really the pastor’s role…
  • Look again at Psalm 23 and John 10 – count the number of shepherds… there is only one shepherd – The Lord…
  • I’m going to suggest that we can learn an important lesson from the little boy who spoke up during the children’s sermon – the pastor is not the shepherd… the pastor is a sheep dog…
  • In most of the world, unlike in the Bible, shepherds are not alone in their tending of the sheep… in most of the world shepherds use herding dogs to assist them in the care of the sheep…
  • The Border Collie is the very best breed for a sheep dog… it’s intelligence, alertness, agility, ability, and work ethic make it the ideal herding dog… the Border Collie was developed and bred in Scotland for hundreds of years… and the sole purpose of a Border Collie is to herd sheep… they have instinctive herding skills…

 

THE PASTOR AS SHEEPDOG

  • I’m going to talk for a few moments about the qualities and the role of a good sheep dog, but as I do, I want you to be thinking about the role of a good pastor…
  • The good sheep dog is the shepherd’s representative among the flock…
    • It conveys the shepherd’s message and not its own…
    • It seeks the loving shepherd’s will - not its own….
  • The good sheep dog understands the shepherd’s commands – a well-trained sheep dog works in partnership with the shepherd and obeys the shepherd’s commands to perform its job… The good sheep dog trusts the shepherd… they are a smoothly functioning team
  • The good sheep dog is obedient to the shepherd’s voice alone… the understanding goes beyond words… the dog can “read” the shepherd because it knows the mind of the shepherd.
  • The good sheep dog is a motivator… it has the skill to keep the sheep together and to move them along… properly trained, the dog is able to move the sheep just about anywhere…
  • The sheep dog’s primary role is to keep the sheep always moving toward the Shepherd...
    • driving them for the Shepherd’s purpose…
    • putting the Master’s wishes above its own…
  • The good sheep dog controls the sheep with calm authority and without excessive commotion… they do their work with quiet confidence <Davis>
    • Sometimes a good sheep dog stands unnoticed at the very edge of the flock just watching…
    • Sometimes being a good sheep dog involves staying still or perhaps moving very quietly and confidently as needed, listening and watching all the time to meet the needs of the sheep…
  • A good sheep dog is not “on the clock.”
    • He or she is always vigilant, always listening for the voice of the shepherd…
    • He or she is always alert to the needs and fears of the sheep…
    • A good sheep dog reflects the shepherd’s concern and love for the sheep…
    • The good herding dog does not fuss over the flock, but at any sign that the sheep need guiding or protecting, the dog moves quietly to the right place to be their protector…
  • The good sheep dog develops a relationship with the flock… the dog knows and loves each of the sheep… the dog knows that each one of them are his/her responsibility…
  • A good sheep dog is invaluable to the shepherd, but the sheep dog also needs the tender loving care and attention of the shepherd…
    • the shepherd and the sheep dog are companions, co-workers and friends…
    • the sheep dog knows the shepherd even better than he/she knows the flock…
    • the dog LOVES to work with the shepherd…
  • “Nothing can separate the good sheep dog from the sheep, or indeed the good sheep dog from the shepherd.” <author unknown>

 

CONCLUSION

  • What a joy it is for me to work in partnership with the Good Shepherd and with the “flock” here at DUC as your interim pastor…
  • May God bless you as you discern together who the next pastor or “sheep dog” of DUC will be…

 

Sermon Seeds

  • God’s Sheep Dogs – a sermon by Mark Davis
  • Sermon Prep materials from Richard Donovan (www.sermonwriter.com)
  • Jesus The Loving Shepherd – a sermon by Thomas Hall
  • Dogs and Sheep – a sermon/study by Richard Rittenbaugh
  • The Good Sheep Dog – by Phillip Keller
  • The Loyal Sheep Dog – author unknown

Worship Bulletin

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