St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Lent Week Five—Wednesday

Psalm 130 Jeremiah 25:30-38 Romans 10:14-21 John 10:1-18

Do you know about sheepfolds? The ancient places where shepherds would keep their sheep at night? A sheepfold was really not a large place; some earth and stones raised to a height, constructed in a circle – with an opening at one end – a gap. The shepherd would lead them all in, calm them down, and then lie down across the opening; lie down in the gap where danger might come in the night. But that is only half of the shepherd’s job. The other half is to lead them out of the fold. Because if the sheep spent their whole life in the sheepfold, those protective walls would simply become a cage.

Now, it was possible for sheep to live their entire life within the fold; however, they would not really be living, they would simply be surviving. Passing their days in an enclosure; safe, but weak. Safe – but never really feeding and watering in the places that would keep them healthy and make them strong. Perhaps the more significant job of the shepherd was to lead them to pasture, lead them to water; and the shepherd would call them each by name in order that they might follow him safely into the country where they would truly thrive. Of course, the sheep could survive in the small and cramped enclosure of the fold; but they would have no real life. And in the end surviving and living are two different things. Jesus calls each of us to a new life by name that is outside the enclosures we have come to call home. Jesus is telling his friends that when they remain close to him, if they will be lead and shepherded by him, they will have all that they need. He will give them an abundant life.

-Alston Johnson

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