All too often when we hear the 23rd Psalm, we envision ourselves as the sleep in the arms of the loving shepherd Jesus. At times of stress & crisis, to be in the arms of Jesus is what we need.
However, on most days I think we are invited to be shepherds. In fact, Jesus in his final hours with the disciples at the last supper, encourages them to join him in the ministry of shepherding. The activities of a good shepherd (rather than a hireling) are embedded in the 23rd Psalm.
#1 Shepherds are generous – all people are to not be in want, their cups running over.
#2 Shepherds are to be protective, providing a safe environment – inviting all to rest beside still waters.
#3 Shepherds are to be guides who refresh, who revive the souls, the hearts, of others.
#4 Shepherds are to walk beside others, to be companions.
#5 Shepherds are to host gatherings where all sit down to share a meal with adversaries, with those who trouble us.
#6 Shepherds are to encourage all to promote “goodness & mercy”.
Rather than seeing All Saints as a gathering of sheep, we are to be a gathering of shepherd leaders who then go out into our community ready for ministry, ready to represent Jesus of Nazareth in our current day. He is our role model; he is the great shepherd.