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Thy rod and thy staff

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Isaiah 40:10-11
Here comes with power the Lord God who rules by his strong arm. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock, in his arms he gathers the lambs carrying them close to his heart, and gently leads the ewes, watching over their young, to good pasture.

There were no TVs, no video games. But there were books. Sacred books. Jesus spent his childhood absorbing the words on the scrolls of Isaiah and all the other precious Hebrew writings, passed on from century to century.

Of course there were distractions. He played in the snow. He chased the birds. He traded baseball cards with his friends (well, maybe not). And his carpentry skills came from practice, by following Joseph around and doing what he was told to do. There was plenty of hard work for Jesus growing up.

But as he said to his parents, ďDonít you know that I have to be in my Fatherís house?Ē He learned the stories and the prophecies, considered the words and their nuances, and listened wide-eyed to what his teachers said about them.

And so reading Isaiah, Jesus saw God as the shepherd. But then, when he shares that story as an adult, he takes the story one step further. The shepherd not only cares for the sheep of his pasture; he looks for the one who is lost. He even might be willing to forsake caring for the found to look for the lost.

Jesus describes (in Matthew 18:12-14) God, who loves and loves and never stops loving. Who looks and looks and never stops looking. God, who carries his rod and staff but uses them to guide, not to punish. God, who holds me close to his heart when Iím there and calls out for me to return when Iím not.

Andi holds her baby Miles close to her heart. His dad Aki holds Miles close to his heart. They can feel the babyís heart beating just right next to theirs. They know how God feels about each of us, carrying us gently one day at a time for the rest of eternity.

We sing a new song to you, Lord, and bless your name. Jesus has shown us how close you are to us, and how you love us and look far and wide for us when we run away. There is no fear in love. We never have to run away. Remind me hour by hour that I do not need to run away, Father. Let me put my hand in your hand, and walk with you beside the sea.

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