Here at Christ Church in Bowling Green, the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd holds something of a special place. Since near the turn of the twentieth century, in both the second and third iterations of the Christ Church building, worshipers have looked above the altar and seen Jesus, face somewhat scowled, holding a lamb and a shepherds crook. Recently, a local artist, John Davis Thompson, took on the project of painting the Mary Wilkins memorial window, and our choir has sold numbered prints as a fairly successful fund raiser.
We aren’t known as Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, and there are plenty of other stained glass windows that have been added over the years to depict various events in the life and ministry of Jesus, but it seems that the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd had something to say to the people who rebuilt Christ Episcopal Church after the Civil War, and it continue to speak to those who took care to move the window when they built the new church in 1912.
This care of the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd is instructive to me this week. I can get kind of surly about the oft repeated images in our lectionary. I don’t feel the need for an annual remembrance of one of the many ways Jesus described himself, but the Wilkins memorial window would remind me that for many, this image of Jesus is a helpful one.
As I try to get my head above water and think about preaching for the first time since Easter Day, I’m trying to let this image in. What does it convey? What does it lack? What can I learn about God’s work of redemption through the image of a shepherd? Where in it can I find a place to rest and find refreshment. It will be a particularly challenging week to wrestle with a familiar text, but I suppose that is part of it as well. When these images come up, again and again, it is a helpful reminder that trusting in the Spirit will produce more fruit than my own frustrated efforts ever could. So, come Holy Spirit, come and open my eyes to see Christ as the Good Shepherd and open my lips to proclaim the truth. Amen.