Being from the city, I don’t know a whole lot about farm animals. We had horses when I was a kid, but I got all the joy of riding with none of the worry of caring for them. When Bill and I moved our family to Clermont, Georgia, I thought I knew a thing or two about horses. However, while at a pre-school farm day, I was informed by a local that I hadn’t a clue. It seems I was “over reacting” when a male horse tried to mount the female horse on which my three year old was riding. The man in charge of the horses spat out the words “city slicker” with such contempt you would have thought I was a yankee or something.
A year or two later, I was directing that same preschool when the parking lot had to be repaved and repainted. As I was showing two work men what needed to be done, they suddenly stopped mid step and said, “What was that?” Now let me say to you our church is in a rural area. In fact, we are the only parking surrounded by miles of farmland. I had no idea what they were talking about, I hadn’t heard a sound.
“There it is again? Did you hear that? Was that…a cow?”
“That,” I said, “was most definitely a cow. They really do say moo.”
“No way! You have cows up here?”
Wow, I had come a long way since my city-slicker days! These men were amazed. Niether of them had ever seen a cow before. They wanted to know if they could go across the street and pet them. I said, “Sure just don’t get near the big one with the horns.”
While I have made some progress with cows and horses, I still have not had much opportunity to learn about sheep. The closest I got was a few years ago during the Christmas play, when Bill had to carry one onto the stage for a scene. It was supposed to be a cute little lamb. However, all the local farmers laughed at me when I called and it became obvious that I did not know sheep do not have lambs in winter. The resulting sheep was large and bulky, causing Bill much strain when he lifted it. Trying to navigate the stairs in the dark to set up the scene was too much and down they went with a bang. Fortunately, my husband has a very quick wit and covered the fall with a one liner that got the audience laughing.
This year’s performance once again has live sheep in attendance. This year I am backstage, for the first time actually being IN the production. So I am getting a first hand look at the sheep. They do not follow; they have to be leashed. Their bleating is loud, constant, and annoying. Cuddly is not an adjective you can use even remotely to describe them. They stink. On stage the first night, they knocked the prop corral over and then proceeded to leave a tremendous puddle and pile of brown pellets center stage. I don’t know if the prop falling scared them that much, or if they were protesting their role, but either way it caused enough stir to delay the opening of the curtain in the next scene. I have decided that there is a good reason I am not a farm girl. I would have no patience for these animals.
After these few days, I am looking at scripture and have noticed how many times we are depicted as sheep in the word. I could think of another comparison that I would like better…what about butterflies, or an eagle? Yet we are called sheep, and the Lord is our shepherd…not a job I would ever desire after watching our Christmas sheep in action.
Over and over in the word. Sheep without a shepherd. Being lead astray like sheep. Shepherd laying down his life for his sheep. Going after the lost lamb. Sheep follow the voice of the shepherd. Feed my sheep. I could go on and on. Throughout, we are repeatedly compared to these animals that are annoying, and not very smart. I think it is because we act like them. We do not follow. We are constantly bleating and whining, driving those around us crazy. We do not allow God to cleanse our hearts, so we stink much of the time. You would think he would turn his back on us.
Instead, what does he do? He becomes a sheep too. Talk about lowering himself…it never ceases to amaze me. “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter and did not open his mouth.” I can tell you that is unlike the earsplitting sheep I have been around the past few days. Even as a sheep, he was miraculous. He is both a sheep and a shepherd. He could have left us, but he has a connection with sheep because he was one. So, instead we get…“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
From this city slicker turned country girl, may you have blessed Christmas season worshiping the Lamb of God!