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May 2011

Shepherd and Door

From Saving the Ants by Ruth Gilmore

For the Fourth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Reference: John 10:1-10 “I am the gate for the sheep… Those who come in through me will be saved.”

Preparation: (Optional) You can bring a picture of Jesus as the Shepherd or point out a picture in the church. Show your illustration after asking the children if they know who the Good Shepherd is. Pick your volunteer ‘wolf’ out ahead of time.

Who is the Good Shepherd? Can anyone tell me? (Let children respond.) Yes, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. (You may show your illustration here.) In the Gospel lesson read today, Jesus says, “I am the door of the sheep fold.” So besides being a shepherd, Jesus is the door.

Did you know that in Bible times, a couple thousand years ago, being a door was part of a shepherd’s job? The sheep fold was usually a stone wall built in a circle with only one opening, so after the shepherd had gathered all the sheep into the fold for the night, he would have to lay down across the opening to guard the sheep. The only way a wolf could get in, was through that door and so they’d have to deal with the shepherd first. Do you think a good shepherd would let a wolf through that door? No sir! The shepherd would drive the wolf away!

Let’s see if we can build a sheep fold here at the front of the church. I need some volunteers to be part of the wall. (Choose some kids and help to arrange them.) You stones sit here along the altar rail and don’t move. You’re part of the wall. We’ll pretend that the wall goes all along the altar rail, so a wolf can’t get in that way. We’ll leave an opening here for the doorway.

Now the rest of you are sheep. It’s getting dark, so you’d better get into the fold. You’ll be safe there. Now, I need a good shepherd. The good shepherd comes over here and lays down in the doorway. The shepherd is the door to the sheep fold. It’s a good thing too, because there’s a big, scary-looking wolf out here who’s on the prowl for a late-night snack of leg-of-lamb. See the wolf? (Choose a man from the congregation who would be willing to help.)

The wolf is going to try to sneak past the shepherd without waking him up to get at the sheep. If the shepherd touches the wolf, then the wolf has to run away and the sheep are safe. (Let the players act it out.)

Thank you, shepherd, for protecting the sheep. We can be thankful that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and that He always watches over us. We remember that Jesus gave up his own life to save us from sin and death.

Dear Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. Thank you for keeping us in your care.

2 comments to Shepherd and Door

  • Oliver Washington

    I liked the initial illustration. However, it may cause us to potentially see ourselves as turning away those who do not look like us (sheep); Christ, as the shepherd would go out during the day and search for the lost sheep. When he found one he would add it to the flock. the sheep would find its place among the flock and follow the voice of the shepherd. There are many other ways were the shepherd would risk his very life to protect the sheep and flock. Occasionally, we (sheep) stray off. How many of us, loss our way going off to college or the work place? The archetype of a shepherd was David. He knew God gave him the strength to protect his sheep from a bear and lion, just as God does for Jesus (not one of them that God gave him were loss). Christ is our David, for three years he walked with his flock (12, 72 and followers) until they could recognize his voice.

    In the old days, we would find a young man and have him raise that male sheep (ram) until maturity. That young man and boy built a relationship. That ram would go where the young man went, because it knew the man’s voice. then we would slowly add to the numbers of sheep to the mans responsibility. this fact is lost in todays large economy (farms). We do not see them as shepherds any longer, more of custodians for the market.

    the issue of the “sheep” jumping the fence. Well to be honest, most sheep do not jump to high. (Goats do LOL) Anyway, once in the pen, that one would mingle. After a moment, it would be perceived as a member. When leaving the pen, it would take a few of the other sheep with it (thus a thief). How often has a new member arrived, not been willing to adhere to teachings or authority. Upon leaving taken a few with them. (Ugh).

    The illustrations go much further than this… how often have you heard the expression “wolf” in sheep’s clothing. Satan is pretty good with hooping fences and giving a false perception (appearance). But when he leaves consider all the destruction.

    The pen was also a place to care for the sheep, not just at night. trim their hooves, care for wounds, provide a little balm and provide rest. Our places of worship (Temples, Churches) should be likewise.

    Talk to you later, back to my homework, it is finals week. (smile).

    • ruth

      Dear Oliver,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. My husband used to clean the sheep pens at the husbandry department at a university. He gained some valuable (and humbling) insights about why we are often called sheep in the Bible… sheep are not very bright, and they can be very stubborn as well in their ignorance. I hope that all went well for you during your challenging finals week.

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