The fourth Sunday in Easter is typically treated as Good Shepherd Sunday in Lutheran, Anglican, and Roman circles. It is also a Sunday in the Church calendar when we lift up vocations in the church, those studying to become pastors and deacons and those discerning calls to ministry.

The image of Jesus as a shepherd is strange to us in the modern world. Most of us have never even seen a live sheep I would wager and certainly have no knowledge of what a shepherd actually does out there in the mountains with those bleating creatures for weeks on end. The analogy of discipleship as akin to being a sheep is also somewhat offensive to the modern hearer in that it suggests a submissive, thoughtless obedience of the kind that leads to things like fascism or mob rule. Despite how comfortable we are with the metaphor of sheep; the point today is the Shepherd. The Good Shepherd. And why is the Shepherd good? Because the Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The Shepherd seeks out the sheep, keeps them safe and interposes Himself when danger looms.
What leapt out at me this time around from this very familiar 10th chapter of John was verse 16:

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So, there will be one flock, one shepherd.

As many of you know, I am a big believer in the fact that God's flock is exhaustively inclusive and here, in this 16th verse, I find encouragement to that end in that we read that God is not finished yet! God, in the person of Jesus, is still out there on the lonely hillsides of this world seeking after the wayward, the lost, the rejected (as He was rejected), the sheep that are not of this, or any flock, so that He can bring them home. That is my hope this Good Shepherd Sunday, that the Good Shepherd is still hard at work seeking out the lost. It is also sustenance for the calling we all have as Christians to be out there with the Good Shepherd, seeking after those who are not of our flock, not like us, different and perhaps even strange to us and yet still part of the one flock.