sheep

Shepherding Gone Wrong and Right

Post by Tommy Parker

The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

As I read through the readings for this coming Sunday, two words caught my attention: sheep and shepherd. And no wonder—some version of these words is repeated 13 times in the readings by my count. 

Perhaps my attention to these words in particular is rooted elsewhere though. In my house, sheep are a common topic of discussion. One of my housemates is a talented spinner, knitter, and general expert on all things wool. She knows all about sheep—the differences between a Rambouillet versus a Merino versus a Shetland (and the list goes on). She can tell you all about their life cycles, their diets, how to know if they are healthy. Sometimes she will even wax on about a particular animal now twenty years gone who had the most lovely fleeces and was a joy to be around. She is probably the closest I will ever come to knowing a real-life shepherd. 

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Answering Tyrants and Their Tweets

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost
Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

“You tyrant, why do you boast of wickedness
against the godly all day long?…
You love all words that hurt,
O you deceitful tongue.”   -Psalm 52:1,4

“Be like an astute businessman: make stillness be your criterion for testing the value of everything and choose always what contributes to it.” -Evagrius

No preacher can read Psalm 52 this week, with its condemnation of a tyrant that loves “lying more than speaking truth” and “words that hurt,” without thinking of Donald Trump and the latest of his racist outrages.  Add to that Amos, who receives an oracle that condemns a people of religious pretenders more interested in economic exploitation and power than goodness, and we have a scriptural witness that seems tailored for our time.

But in reading the whole of our scriptures for Sunday, I cannot help but think that there is “a better part” that we must choose—a stance that begins with Amos’s call to “be silent,” continues in the example of the green olive tree in Psalm 52, and rests with Mary’s listening at the feet of the Lord.

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