02 May 2009

The Shepherd's Flute

For my homily this Sunday, 4th Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, I am including a story from Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor, Episcopalian priest and theologian, from her sermon “The Shepherd’s Flute,” from her book Bread of Angels.


“On the night before Christ died, all of His sheep fell asleep. They had had a big meal and with the sound of the shepherd’s flute in their ears, they fell asleep. And as they slept, they shared a terrible dream: of wolves with clubs and torches who came out of the woods, led their shepherd away, and tore him to shreds on a hillside outside of town.

In the dream, they huddled for safety, unable to think, unable to move, and they stayed that way for three whole days, wondering if they would starve to death before the wolves came back to finish the job. But then on the third day, they heard a flute—far away at first, then drawing nearer—that woke them from their sleep, and they stood once again in the presence of their good shepherd.

Everything was the same again, but everything had changed. Looking around at each other, they saw what had happened. They had fallen asleep as sheep, but they had woken up as shepherds. As they slept, every one of them had been changed into the image of their master, and as they stood there staring at one another he handed them staves like his, and flutes, and sent them out to gather their own flocks. ‘Do for them as I did for you,’ he said, and played them a little tune as they set off to do just that.”

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