Tuesday, February 27, 2007,2:38 PM
Lost Sheep
So I'm still in the same holding pattern healthwise... spending a lot of time on the couch. I wanted to post this story that we used in church this past week. We had a reflective worship service for the first Sunday of Lent which coincided with Luke 15 in our journey through the book of Luke. So we spent time reflecting on lost sheep, lost coins, and lost sons. I fully admit that this story is a rip-off. I had read this story over at Sarah Dylan Breuer's lectionary blog. I loved it, but decided to tweak it for a more low church setting. So with my respects to Dylan - here's my tweaked version of "The Story of the 99"

There once was a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One day one of those sheep went astray. This of course caused a big stir in the flock. The other 99 immediately sprang into action - or at least discussion.

The first question of the day involved what exactly does "astray" mean. Did this poor sheep lose its way. Was it too stupid to follow the other sheep back into the fold. Did it get lost by accident? Or did it deliberately and maliciously wander off? One, sheep, long with the flock, asked if this sheep had ever really been a sheep at all. If he wandered off, perhaps in reality he was a goat. Others immediately agreed that he had never really seemed like one of them in the first place. The suggestion was given that a message should be sent to the sheep that if he could stop being a goat, or at least start acting like a sheep then he could rejoin the flock. This of course caused various groups to splinter off in discussion as to what it really meant to be a sheep at all.

One group argued that the sheep must follow the historic practices of being a sheep. None of this new-fangled nonsense of progressive shearing techniques and electric fences. No sir. This stray must be willing to be a sheep in the way they have always been sheep if he wanted to return to the fold. Others argued that those cultural trappings of sheepness might have been what caused the sheep to stray in the first place. If they could just redefine sheepness in a language the sheep could understand, the language of the wilderness, then there would never have been an issue. A committee was formed to explore what language was actually being spoken out there in the wilderness (with strict instructions to be out there in the wilderness, but to never be of the wilderness).

All this talk of course upset the faction that didn’t believe in different forms of sheepness. They asserted that that lost sheep should just know how to be a sheep. A sheep exactly like them. In fact all animals should just know how to be a sheep. They decided the best course of action was to start a petition to make it a law that all animals become, or at least act like, sheep. But since they didn’t know any animals that weren’t sheep, they failed to collect the required number of signatures.

Another group found all that talk really missed the point of what sheep were created to be to begin with. They asked if it really was all that bad to be astray. The sheep was out there in the wilderness – out where it belonged. It was in its natural, authentic environment. Perhaps instead of being confined to the flock, they should go join the stray. Get back to what it really means to be a sheep and all that.

The discussion continued late into the night. At some point a few of the sheep, tired of the whole debate, noticed that the shepherd was missing. One lone sheep who had watched the shepherd hurry out in search of the stray sheep asked unheard amidst the chaos of the bleating – if we are in here and the shepherd is out there – who really are the sheep without a shepherd?

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