Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Good Shepherd

This is the artwork that has been on the back of my the prayer book I use.  It is The Good Shepherd by the Mafa Christian communities (North Cameroon).  I've spent quite a bit of time looking at the back cover this month.  I'm not someone who is knowledgeable about artwork by any means but I really enjoy this depiction of the Good Shepherd.  I thought at first that I was fascinated by a non-caucasion image of Jesus but I don't think that's it.  I think I like it because it really looks pastoral.  This looks like someone who really is a shepherd out tending the flock.  

The story behind the image is that when a lamb would constantly stray from the flock, the shepherd would then carry it on his shoulders until the lamb learned to stay close to the shepherd and the safety of the flock.  This was done for the safety of the lamb, who might run off and get attacked by a dangerous predator.  It was also done for the safety of the flock, so that the rest of the sheep wouldn't follow the wayward lamb.  There is probably some story, some truth here but I really like the image. 

There are several questions I ask myself when thinking about the Good Shepherd.  How often have I been the lost sheep that strays from the flock?  How much do I stay with the flock and closely follow the shepherd?  When have I been carried by the shepherd?  Besides trying to figure out where I fit into all of this, the important thing is to realize the image of the relationship of the shepherd to the sheep.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...I know my own and they know me...I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself.    

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