I want remind anyone reading this that all analogies break down at some point because I am comparing two things that are not completely alike. This analogy also breaks down at a number of points.
Let us start with a certain sport, say American baseball, which is recognized as a professional sport. Upon what basis is this judgment made? First of all, the players are paid to play baseball, so it is professional in that sense. Someone or some agency or company supports them. We also note that one of the major considerations is the level of performance of the team, as determined by playing against other professional teams.
There is a story in Matthew and Mark about a Canaanite woman who went to the Lord asking for help for her “demon-possessed” daughter. Jesus didn’t answer her immediately and his disciples wanted him to send her away because she kept bothering them.
In a disconcerting exchange between Jesus and the woman, Jesus said that “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26-28 and Mark 7:27-29)
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows! (Luke 12:2)
There is a “joke” that, as we grow older, there is not as many hairs on our head to count. This misses the point, of course. The metaphor of the hairs on my head refers to the countless ways that God is watching over me.
Likewise, the metaphor of the sparrows refers to the way God can oversee and supervise the smallest detail in my life. If he is conscious of little birds like sparrows, he is surely aware of me.
To sum up the sermon emphasis, it was “sheep and shepherds.” The Gospel reading was from John 10:11-18, about the Good Shepherd, Jesus, as a metaphor (actually a metonymy—a figure of speech such that the name of one thing stand for that of another) of the shepherd being equated with himself. In a direct quote, Jesus said “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd knows his sheep (10:16) and will lay down his life for the sheep” (10:11). And in Psalm 23:1 we read “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing….”
That was the command Mike, our Dr son-in-law, gave the ambulance dispatcher on the morning of April 4th. Joice had fallen during the night and Mike, after arising and reading an email from me, arrived early in the morning to help us. It isn’t a funny story, but it is one worth telling.