Tending His Flock
My husband had something in common with God the Father! In today’s reading, Jeremiah 23:5-8, God is really angry. My husband was fairly even-tempered until something didn’t work, and he couldn’t fix it. He was always patient with people, and their habits and faults, but broken things like lawnmowers, edgers, cars, and computers truly tried his patience. His determination led him to try to fix things, but occasionally, the repairs were beyond his ability, and he had to find another solution.
God’s anger was centered on the shepherds who had been negligent in tending their sheep. The kings referred to are the shepherds who were to protect and provide for the flocks. They were accountable for maintaining peace among the sheep, keeping attackers at bay, and bringing back to the fold those who had gone astray. God has great compassion for those who have been abandoned or left to fare for themselves. He vows to see that the shepherds are rebuked and replaced. His judgment is in answer to a disappointing fulfillment by those who had been responsible for his children. God himself will take over as the shepherd, promising to bring his flock back together.
The leaders of our churches and countries are charged with keeping watch over God’s children. He promises to bring forth a branch from David, a righteous king who will do what is right. This promise is fulfilled at Christmas with the birth of Jesus, who will bring justice to all, fulfilling God’s declaration. The scattered sheep whom he loves will be brought back to the fold.
In celebrating the birth of Christ, we rejoice in God’s love for us. Christmas is the first step in the fulfillment of God’s promise. Aren’t all of us, in some way, shepherds to God’s children? Are you tending to members of his flock as you should?
Let us pray:
Loving God, hear our prayers of thanksgiving for your compassionate love. You judged those who disappointed you fairly and brought forth your Son who reigns justly as our Good Shepherd. We pray for your abiding care and celebrate the fulfillment of your promise. Continue to draw us away from our self-centeredness to a true compassion for your sheep who are suffering and long to return to you. Amen.