10th Day of Christmas

by Matthew B. Harper

The LORD is my shepherd… (Psalm 23:1)

It is comforting to remember Christ the Good Shepherd; but have you ever stopped to think what it means to be his sheep? Sheep are disobedient, and unruly animals. Sheep are smelly and dirty, and they are not the cute animals that they appear to be. Sheep are often very human. But it is these creatures that need a shepherd. If sheep were clean and well disciplined, then they would not need a shepherd to look out for them and guide them. Humans are like sheep, and we need a shepherd.

The danger comes often when we are so eager to follow, that we will follow anybody. When people feel marginalized, depressed, and afraid they will grasp at any straw, they will follow any shepherd. In prison, when men are at their lowest, I have seen them embrace anything and everything. We have groups in prison that try to cling all kinds of sects, schisms, cults, and other faiths. It is not always enough to know you are lost. But Christ is real, Christ that has the power to come to us and search us out.

We come to know Christ most truly, and most deeply, when we are lost. We learn about God’s Love when we allow God to love us when we feel unlovable. I wish there was an easier way to learn to trust God, but for many of us it had to be a rocky road to redemption. We all, like sheep, have gone astray. But it is Christ who has sought us out and brought us home.

I have never been so far from everything I love. When the world is difficult for us, God uses those times to love us more intensely, and to sustain and protect us.

It came upon a midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold; “Peace on earth, good will to men, from heaven’s all gracious King.” (Hymn 89)

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