Friday of the Week of Lent IV
Today’s readings: Jeremiah 23:1-8; Romans 8:28-39; John 6:52-59
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people… “behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock…and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing…” (Jer 23:1-4).
It is something of a blessing and a curse that God sets shepherd/pastors over His flock to care for them. It is a blessing, because God wants under-shepherds to be there in the community, feeding and watching over the sheep. It is a curse because pastors are all-too-human and, sometimes, do not live up to their responsibilities.
It is a sad reality that pastors are not always faithful shepherds, sometimes destroying and scattering the sheep of the Lord’s pasture. Thankfully, it is not often. I will say, however, that when installing a new pastor, I remind the congregation that their new pastor is just that: a pastor. Your pastor is not your Savior. Your pastor will not make all things new—and better. The pastor and the congregation must work together, as a team, to strengthen and grow ministry, to reach others with the presence of Jesus Christ, to develop and maintain an active, viable mission in the local community.
The good news in our reading is that even when the shepherds/pastors destroy and scatter the flock, the Lord God will Himself gather the remnant, bring them back to the fold to be fruitful and multiply and, yes, set over them new shepherds so that they will no longer fear or be dismayed! The Lord will not forsake His flock or His sheep!
Prayer: O Lord, you are my shepherd. You lead me beside still waters. Restore my soul! Amen.
Lenten Response: Send an encouraging email or make a phone call expressing thanks to your pastor for the love and care.
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.
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