Midweek Faith Lift
July 8, 2020
“I Am the Good Shepherd”- Station 9
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
The Good Shepherd—what an iconic figure that is for Christianity, for humanity. The archetype of the Good Shepherd resonates throughout human history giving us an image of caring, of calling for us, of calling us home. Many, many people have responded to that image and energy of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and that being called home means going to heaven in the hereafter. It is an icon of protection, an archetype of guardian, of safety, of trust. Think about it; we have long counted sheep in order to fall asleep. Now that is the ultimate trust image; sheep going into the pasture for safekeeping through the night. And the Good Shepherd watches over us keeping us safe from harm, from wolves, jackals, bears and mountain lions and any predators so that we can sleep in peace.
The Good Shepherd icon is often associated with the end of life and our final rest, resting in peace forever. When we think of it as a living, present icon, it is an icon with mixed energy. Why is that? Well, because to many people, the idea of being a sheep, or sheep like is not terribly appealing. It conjures up the notion of blind following, blind allegiance and unwillingness to think for oneself. One can see this kind of following as impinging on your freedom. It can seem like a mindless trusting that the shepherd has only the best interests of the sheep and will not lead them over the cliff or into harms way. It can seem like we are just looking for rescuer rather than stepping up to take responsibility to think for ourselves and determine our circumstances.
So how do we navigate this relationship with a leader, a Good Shepherd? The first step is to realize that this is a Cosmic Christ kind of icon or archetype. That means it is a fluid energy, which at times calls us to be sheep and at times calls us to be shepherds. We are both leaders and followers in that energy of the Cosmic Christ. We recognize that there is a “power greater than ourselves” and that even as we acknowledge and welcome that power, we also are called to exercise our power, we too are shepherds. We are called to act as shepherds as it is described in First Peter:
Tending the Flock of God
5 Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. (NRSV)
This is an important charge of responsibility that comes with being the leader or the shepherd. It is willing to will God’s will, not your will. It is a service, not for your gain and to lead by example not oppression or suppression. The references are always to the energy of the Christ Consciousness that is the “chief shepherd.” It is clear that being the good shepherd is a fluid archetype meaning that we are sometimes sheep and sometimes shepherd. All of us, in the Christ Consciousness are called to be at one time sheep and one time shepherd, and always responsible and accountable for our choices, our actions and our behavior. We don’t blame the shepherd, for we are the shepherd, just as we are the sheep.
Serving as the Good Shepherd is just that; it is stepping into the role of service. It means making a commitment, being willing to be vigilant, to make a sacrifice when necessary and to put your needs second when necessary. It means giving up some of your freedoms for that sake of the flock. It means putting the interest of the greater good ahead of your own. It means being a good steward who holds all accountable including yourself and holds the high watch for the highest and best good for all. A good shepherd is at times fierce and alert to the dangers that show up that might cause harm to the flock, to the group.
The shepherd is watchful and mindful and humble for the shepherd is also one of the flock and the good of the whole flock is the mission. It is highly significant here to remember our station from last week, as we learned that whatever we do to the least of these we do unto ourselves, and unto the Christ of us. Having awakened to that spiritual truth, we cannot ignore what continues to harm the whole flock. In truth we are all called to be good shepherds of our own consciousness and the consciousness of the whole community.
Bishop Andrus says it this way on p. 106 of the Stations of the Cosmic Christ:
When you meet the Archetype of the Good Shepherd, you may consider whether you are using your voice to its full effect, as well as whether you are being guided, defended and cared for by the Good Shepherd. Are we tending the weakest, the most vulnerable in our communities? Equally are we caring for the vulnerable parts of our inner selves?
When we meet that vunerable part of our inner self, the part that is hurting and wants to hurt back, the part that feels shame and wants to hide or run away, we call upon our inner good shepherd to bring us back to our selves, to our Christ self, to our higher self. It is this loving good shepherd that allows us to have the whole of our human experience so that we can break through into our Divine Goodness once we can see it is an option. Until we can see it, we are kind of like sheep, bleating and walking blindly, unawake and stumbling in the night.
Friends, we live in a time when more than ever, we are called to wake up. We are in a time of a Cosmic Shift in consciousness, a time when complacency is not enough. We are called to be stewards of consciousness who each call ourselves higher rather than thinking and waiting that there is someone else who will do that. We may long for a leader who would inspire and guide us, but the message is clear, we are the Good Shepherd and we each must speak up, stand up and keep our voices loud and clear until we are heard, until we hear ourselves so clearly that there is no more confusion or misdirection.
This weekend we celebrated the 4th of July, our Independence Day. It is a day to celebrate freedom and the incredible responsibility of stewardship that comes with it. The Covd-19 pandemic has taught us that unless we are responsible, the disease will continue to spread and spread and cause even more suffering and curtailing of our freedoms. That is just the natural consequence of our not being good stewards, not collectively taking responsibility for the greater good.
The parable of the lost sheep seems especially relevant right now. Jesus told parables as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning; to awaken our consciousness. It is in Matthew and it goes like this:
12 What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost. (NRSV)
What is significant here metaphysically in this parable are the numbers. We have 99 and then 100. In the number 9 we have a trinity of trinities: our human experience: Mind, body, spirit; the creative process: Mind, Idea, Expression and then what we as humans can do with a trinity: Us, Them and YOU….whose side are you on? Triangulation!?!?!!
The key here is that when something is lost or has gone missing, we go after it until it brings us into wholeness, into oneness with our Christ self or our Highest Good. What is the missing idea or belief or feeling that will bring us into wholeness? The number 100 represents this wholeness and healing. Right now, in our country, we have been pushing the triangulation and separation narrative. During this weekend of celebrating our freedom, may we come to know that our most important freedom is that which brings us into wholeness as a nation, as a people. May we all be stewards of that consciousness, that story of our wholeness and healing!
I leave you today with a Prayer for America, written by Marianne Williamson:
PRAYER FOR AMERICA
We join in prayer to celebrate this nation and
surrender its destiny to You.
We give thanks in our hearts for the founding
of this country.
We give thanks for and bless the souls of those
who came before us to found this nation, to
nurture and to save it.
We ask that God's spirit now fill our hearts
May we play our parts in the healing and the
furtherance of our country.
May we be cleansed of all destructive thoughts.
May judgment of others, bigotry, racism, and
intolerance be washed clean from our hearts.
May our minds be filled with the thoughts
His unconditional love and His acceptance of
May this nation be forgiven its transgressions,
against the African-American, Native
American, and any and all others.
May our lives be turned into instruments of
resurrection, that the sins of our fathers
might be reversed through us.
May the beauty and the greatness of this land
burst forth once more in the hearts of
May the dreams of our forefathers be realized
in us, that we might live in honesty and
integrity and excellence with our neighbors.
May this country once again become a light
unto the nations of hope and goodness and
peace and freedom.
May violence and darkness be cast out of
May hatred no longer find fertile ground
in which to grow here.
May our nation be given a new light, the sacred
fire that once shone so bright from shore
May we be repaired,
May we be forgiven.
May our children be blessed.
May we be renewed.
Dear God, please bless America.
Blessings on the path,