Sheep without a shepherd need a place to belong and someone to care for them. This is the heart of the Scriptures we read this week. In the Gospel of Mark, we read of Jesus looking out at the crowds who follow him and recognising that they need compassion and good leadership. They have been betrayed by their leaders and they are “like sheep without a shepherd.” And so, filled with compassion, Jesus heals and feeds them. In the Old Testament we witness God’s promise to David. The shepherd boy who has now become king desires to build a “house” (a Temple) for God. His motives may well have been a bit mixed. There was definitely a desire to worship God and create a place for others to encounter God. But there seems to be a bit of a desire to “domesticate” God, to let others know that he was “in” with God and God was on his side. But God turns the tables on David – rather than let David build a house for God, God proclaims that God is going to build a “house” (a dynasty – there’s a play on words in the Hebrew here) for David. God promises that David’s Reign will never end and that a descendant of David will always be on the throne. Through the ages the prophets reminded the people of this promise, and spoke with hope about the “good shepherd” who would come as the fulfilment. When Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” he was claiming to be the fulfilment of this promise himself.

Two implications arise from this for us. The first is that we are the sheep who need the good shepherd to care for us and create for us a place of belonging. Jesus has offered himself to us as exactly this, and has welcomed us into God’s household. The second implication is that we, too, are called to be good shepherds of those for whom we care and with whom we live. We, too, are to welcome others into God’s household and create for them a place of belonging.

This week we seek to find our place in God’s household even as we create space for others.

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