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The Sunday Sermon; Sheep, shepherds and lighthouses.

It is quite common for atheists to accuse people of faith of being sheep, or to use the word they seem to find so amusing, sheeple. Apparently sheeple are the very opposite of those free thinking skeptics who hang on every word of God, or as they know him the holy dawkins. Sheep, and shepherds  feature a lot in both the new and old testament, but I wonder what the issue  dawkbros have with sheep is exactly?

Have you ever tried to catch a sheep? I have, with a group of us who all had part shares in a flock. It was time for the larger lambs to go to the abbatoir and return in neat packages to my freezer. We did not have a shepherd, or a sheep dog, we did have fast, strong, strong-willed animals who were more than capable of running at an adult and sending them flying. Yes, sheep can look placid grazing grass on the hillside, and some breeds have been selected for their docility, However if they were just mindless then there would be no need for the shepherd. If they could simply be trained to go where they were wanted there would be no need for the sheep dog or fences.

The shepherd traditionally was someone who gave up many comforts to protect the flock, who protected them from animal attack, and when needed guided the sheep away from danger. Sheep have always been valuable, providing both food and wool, and the loss of one was always a cause for concern. So very far away from the image that those who use the word sheeple are trying to suggest. The shepherd is not needed because sheep are mindless, but because they are valuable and the loss of even one is cause to go off into the night to seek it.

There is a special kind of arrogance it seems to me in thinking you never wander off into the wolf filled night, never need help to return to safety, never struggle and need help back into the fold. Of course not everyone finds that help in religion. However I have never met someone who I liked and respected who believed they were an island, that their life was without those moments when they stumble, and need others to help them get back on their feet.

Lighthouses come into my mind here, you can be an expert sailor, master of your craft, but you still need a lighthouse to warn you of rocks unseen beneath the waves. Does it make you weak to rely on something outside of yourself, or simply not arrogant enough to dismiss the value of what others have done? When a lighthouse (a common metaphor for Christ) shines its light across the night do we have to turn away in order to prove how independent and free thinking we are?

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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