Holy Angels Youth Group aka my "shoots'
Shepherds, Sheep, Vineyards, & Stones
In my mind today I'm thinking about parables. Don't you enjoy parables? They are stories with hidden meanings. Jesus gave us many parables: the Shepherd, the gate, the vineyard, and the church.
All of us are mere "sheep" in this modern world. There are many Shepherds vying for our devotion and attention. Here is a short list: media, consumerism, politics, religions, and corporations. Each shepherd listed has something to gain by being a strong, influential leader.
Today let's just examine the media and see how it can shepherd us. The media shepherd that wants to control what we believe by flooding our senses. It invokes such anger, hate, and distrust. We need to be wary at all times because sheep are easily led to the _. (Fill in the blank students.)
What should a shepherd be like? They should tend, herd, feed, and guard their fold. They should protect, guide, watch-over, and know and love each sheep. In a modern world, finding a good shepherd is a daunting task. Students just be wary because the world many times is "all about me" and not the greater good. Choose your shepherd carefully!
Vineyards are beautiful. They give fruit, jobs, and many lessons. Two of my favorites are about the workers and the shoots of a good vine yielding good fruit. As a mom, teacher, and Christian, I am constantly tending my "shoots." I want what flows from this vine to spread faith, hope, and love. I try to study and think carefully before I write. Why? Spoken words can easily disappear into the air but the written word can become eternal. Mind your "shoots!"
Have you heard of the parable where each vineyard worker gets the same wage regardless of their hours worked? Talk about angry. Each got the promised wage, but the ones who put in a day's worth of work, 11 hours, were miffed because those who worked an hour got the same amount. It makes us think of the prodigal son doesn't it? Makes you think we should decide who is more worthy. Who are those people in modern days who work 11 hours? What about the one hour workers? Lots of ugly ideas pop into our minds. Which ones are more Holy and precious to God? Warning! It's a trick question. Did you know this parable is used in Jewish and Muslim cultures not only in Christian culture. That's a mind-bender for most of us. Can you do more to earn more Grace from God? Come on students. You know this answer. What can you do? Well as a teacher I urge you to do your best each day and be the best person you can be. You only can control one mind and body. Start by using it for good. Love your neighbor!
The church is but living stones. It's only as good as the stones that build it. I'm a stone, you're a stone, wouldn't you like to be a beautiful stone, too? I'm reading a book about reviving churches. With the today's climate, economic and political, churches are going to have to become places of solace, help, and education once again. They will need to "fill in the gaps" of poverty and greed even more. I know they still do so much in many ways but "these times they are a changing." (In my best Bob Dylan voice) I'm hoping our living stones react in positive ways to be the "Balm of Gilead." In my mind and heart I think that that's what Jesus planned all along. He was and is such an amazing shepherd. He didn't want divisions; he wanted cohesion to heal the injustice in the world. It's hard to drop our labels and those we place on others. Remember the book about "Sneetches" students? Let's work together!
Am I perfect? I'm really chuckling to myself. No way! I just want us all to use our minds, hearts, and bodies to embrace what we have been given. You have the ability to be a part of something awe inspiring and life giving. I've never heard anyone say, "I want to make our world the worst place ever." Be a part of the greater good!
Sarah Anderson Alley
Dedicated to the annual Mission Blitz that tries to unite and put more good into our community and my Youth Group "shoots" for being a part of the greater good!
Quote of the Day:
"Though we travel the world over to find beautiful, we must carry it within us or we find it not."
Ralph Waldo Emerson