This past week was Heritage Artisans Week in New Harmony. It always surprises me how a 19th century village suddenly appears on the lawn of the Athenaeum on North Street. Artisans from all over come to show what life was like in the New Harmony of the 1800s. Rope makers, soap makers, tin workers and...yes, shepherds come to teach school kids from all over the area about a variety of "lost arts." Around 2000 school children and adults come to visit. So one day last week Katie and I went down to see the sheep. The shepherd had an "under-shepherd" named Rerun. Rerun is a border collie and she is absolutely amazing to watch. While I was there, she never took her eyes off of the sheep. The shepherd let them out of the pen to wander and graze and they didn't hesitate to wander in whatever direction the grass tasted sweetest! Rerun watched and when the shepherd gave her the command to gather them she did it quickly and efficiently.
When Jesus says "My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me" he is talking about all of us sheep and most especially those of us who tend to wander! The fact that no one can snatch us out of his hand means that Jesus never takes his eyes off of us. I don't know how God does that with so many children to watch, but I believe it just as surely as I know that Rerun had her eyes on all 4 of those sheep. Not only did she watch them but she listened for the shepherd's voice. I barely heard his muttered command to her when she rounded up the sheep but she did not miss it.
Annie Lamott in her book, Traveling Mercies, tells a story she heard from one of the ministers at her church. When this woman was about 7 her best friend got lost one day. The little girl ran up and down the streets of the big neighborhood where they lived, but she couldn't find a single landmark. She was very frightened. Finally a policeman stopped to help her. he put her in the passenger seat of his car and drove around until she finally saw her church. She told him firmly, "You could let me out now. This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here."
Lamott says that is why she has always stayed close to her church: because no matter how bad she is feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when she sees the faces of those people at her church, and hears their tawny voices, she knows that she can always find her way home.
It is amazing to me how much those who spend time with the Good Shepherd begin to reflect the ways of the Shepherd...and even sound like him.
The walls have gone up with a shout!
This is a picture from almost two weeks ago now of the construction of our new parish house. Not to make too many excuses but this is the reason why I haven't posted in several weeks. This week (before the rain) they got the building under roof and I am very excited about the ministry possibilities it will give us. We are still quite a way off from the finish but it is beginning to feel like a reality. More pictures to come...