The Valley of the Shadow

My family spent the evening at the Harrisburg Senator’s game.  With the rain and wind, it wouldn’t have really been my personal choice.  But it was the “company family party,” AND the girls really wanted to go.  That said, I wasn’t planning on navigating conversations about crowds and commotion and possibly guns. Certainly not a conversation I thought I’d be having with the girls–especially in Dollar Tree while we sought ponchos.  But the ever-present media is ever-present for children as well as adults.

So, in the midst of Dollar Tree we wax philosophical about crowded spaces, guns, and hurting people.  “Is he a bad guy?”  One of my step-daughters asked.  The other rationalized, “We are going to a ball game, not the movies.” (Whoever thinks pastoring is tough should try navigating these conversations with seven and eight year-olds.)  We had a mini-conversations about hurting people hurting others and bad choices followed by being safe at the game.

Being safe.

This Sunday one of the lectionary choices is Psalm 23.  The ubiquitous comfort psalm.  The psalm of fearing no evil.  The psalm of eating in the presence of enemies.  The psalm of the Good Shepherd.  It’s interesting that the visual imagery of Jesus as shepherd are often so bucolic.  So serene.  So gentle.  My understanding is that shepherds weren’t particular serene or gentle.  In fact, if a sheep got so far out of line, the shepherd often broke the sheep’s legs to keep the sheep from hurting itself or the flock.  That’s why it would need to be carried.  Not exactly the Sunday School comfort we imagine.

Yet, on a night like tonight, I kind of like the thought that the Good Shepherd would intervene to keep both the hurting sheep and the flock safe.  I wonder how we can best do that for and with one another.

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