Good Shepherds

March 20, 2020 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

“What is the status of your soul?”

My pastor/preacher cohort offered this question to each gathered from across the country on a video call this week, well into Lent. After each responded, the one who shared before them, prayed out loud for that person… their joys, anxieties, hopes, confusion, disruption, and more.

“My heart broke when I put up a ‘This building is CLOSED’ sign on our Church today.”

Another shared, “I don’t even want to talk about what Easter might look like.”

The gathering started with a reading of Psalm 23 which reminded me that all these “shepherds” who are pastoral, are clearly guided by the “Good Shepherd.” Prayer after prayer reminded us, and I remind you all, we are not alone … God is with us … and we also have the body of Christ, the Church. Where one or two are gathered, there God is also, whether we are face to face, phone to phone, or screen to screen.

When I rotated off a non-profit board where I served as chair, they gave me a meaningful and beautiful gift: a signed print of He Qi’s pastel interpretation of “The Good Shepherd.” As is his style, the interpretation is a bit modern, making viewers take a moment to notice what is happening in the foreground and the background. In this case the shepherd is out front holding sheep and a shepherd’s crook. A wolf on the prowl fades into the background and can be missed easily and often.

God’s people have been through difficult days, even plagues, pandemics, quarantines, enslavements, and recessions before, and those who weather them well always remember that God is with us. Death is not the last word.

May your Lent be holy. Know Resurrection will come … Easter will come … the sign will be Christ’s tomb OPEN for Church … no matter what is on the prowl!

Do you know the hymn that begins, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll”? An active Presbyterian, Horatio Spafford, had just lost four daughters in a tragic shipwreck and he was sailing to meet his wife in Paris in 1876 when he wrote those words. The tune of the hymn, Ville Du Havre, is named for the boat that sank. It continues with what we might call now on social media, a status update and his own answer to my pastoral cohort’s question: “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

Let us pray, may that be for you, me, and our hurting world.

Amen.