One Flock, One Shepherd (part 2) -- Ros' Blog
On one of our walks in Snowdonia last month we took the path from Capel Curig to Llyn Ogwen along what had been the old road before the A5 was created. Unlike most of our walks, this was mainly level with only gentle inclines, and, as usual, there were flocks of sheep all along the way.
We noticed that the sheep along the first half of our walk had blue markings branded onto their wool. But once we passed a fence which marked the boundary between two farms, the sheep had all been branded in red. Curiously, just one sheep close to the border fence had both blue and red markings.
We speculated. Had one farmer sold a sheep to the other? Had one of them pinched a sheep from the neighbouring farm? Had one sheep, looking at the neighbouring flock, decided that their grass was greener and slipped out through the gate to join them?Whatever the reason, what struck me was that this sheep had erased the distinction between “us” and “them”. Depending on which side of the fence a sheep lived, either the red-branded ones were “us” and the blue-branded ones “them” or vice versa. But this sheep was boldly proclaiming by its branding, that there is no “us” or “them” but we all belong.
I started thinking about my early days in disability ministry. Not being disabled myself, but having a disabled daughter, I found it easy to slip into “us” and “them” language. We in the churches want to be more accessible to them – the disabled ones who have historically been excluded. A laudable aim to begin with, but one that didn’t go far enough.
God had to show me that in His Kingdom there is no “us” and “them”, but we are all one in Christ Jesus, and His aim for us all is that we will be, as I said in my previous blog post, one flock with one Shepherd. That’s why, when I was contemplating a title for Through the Roof’s research into disabled people’s experience of Church, I settled on “All of us complete in Christ”. There is a degree of completeness and wholeness that we can all attain with the life of Christ flourishing within us.
So now I see us all as being like that sheep with both brandings – no longer confined to one group or subgroup, but fully members one of another and together forming Christ’s Body. As Paul said, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12. 27)
And as much as the Body of Christ imagery resonates with me, I do love the sheep imagery also. The fact of being all together, one flock with one Shepherd, is a great cause of jubilation among us all, and of praise to God. As the Psalmist said,
“Serve the Lord with jubilation;
Come before Him with rejoicing
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100. 2-4)
This is my last blog post in my capacity as Training Resources Developer for Through the Roof. I have had a wonderful seven and a half years working with this great team of colleagues, and I will miss them all. But I am retiring, and God is calling me into a new adventure. I will, however, continue to volunteer for Through the Roof, so if you join any of our holidays or retreats, or visit our exhibition stand at any events, you might just meet me again. In the meantime I pray God’s blessing and favour on everything Through the Roof is seeking to accomplish for Him.